Lola Ridge, Anarchist, Activist, and Poet
Who is Lola Ridge?
In short, she's a poet.
Though a poet you may have never heard of: who hung around the likes of Emma Goldman, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams; who has been called the nearest prototype in her time of the proletarian poet of class conflict; who extended her youth by claiming to be ten years younger, avoiding the taboo of being a single woman over forty in the early twentieth century; who was born in Dublin and once married to a New Zealand miner -- the stuff of a revolutionary.
Unjustly pushed out of critics' circles, Lola was a strong voice in activist circles and a prominant poetic archivist of the human landscape of early twentieth-century New York City. Recently she has resurfaced with a few collections and an extensive biography, Anything That Burns You (2016), penned by Terese Svoboda. Robert Gray over at Shelf Awareness talked with Svoboda about Ridge's life and how it occurred that so few of us were hip to it.
"For booksellers, handselling titles they love means honing the irresistibility factor so potential readers feel they need a particular book. I asked Svoboda how she would approach the handselling challenge with Anything That Burns You. 'I'd say the book turns on its head the idea that poets are extraneous to the cultural conversation,' she replied. 'Lola lived her wild life dedicated to freedom, and that's what America was founded on, and that's what modernism in America was all about, and that's what poetry encourages.'"
Here's an excerpt of Lola Ridge's Debris which appears in Anything that Burns You:
I love those spirits That men stand off and point at,
Or shudder and hood up their souls—
Those ruined ones,
Where Liberty has lodged an hour
And passed like flame,
Bursting asunder the too small house.