Biography of Lola Ridge
an anarchist poet and an influential editor of avant-garde, feminist, and Marxist publications best remembered for her long poems and poetic sequences. She, along with other political poets of the early Modernist period, has been coming under increasing critical scrutiny at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Life and Writings
Ridge grew up in New Zealand and Australia, and moved to the San Francisco in 1907.
Her first book, The Ghetto and Other Poems was published in 1918. The title poem portrays the Jewish community of Hester Street New York, and deals with the effects of capitalism, gender conflict and conflicts between generations on this immigrant community in ways that bear comparison to the works of Charles Reznikoff. The book was a critical success and led to her involvement with avant-garde magazines such as Others and Broom. Ridge went on to publish four more books of poetry. October 22, 1919, she married David Laws. In 1929, she went to Yaddo. In 1935, she was a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1936, she won the Shelley Memorial Award.
Her papers are held at Smith College.
Although never a member of any political party, she protested against the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, for which she was arrested. She also supported Tom Mooney, and Warren Billings, who had been framed for a bombing at the Preparedness Day Parade in San Francisco in 1916. Her third book, Red Flag 1927 collected much of her political poetry.
Lola Ridge's Works:
The Ghetto, and Other Poems, Huebsch, 1918.
Sun-Up, and Other Poems, Huebsch, 1920; Lightning Source Inc, 2008
Red Flag, Viking, 1927.
Firehead, Payson & Clarke, 1929.
Dance of Fire, Smith & Haas, 1935.
Daniel Tobin, ed. (2007). Light in hand: selected early poems. Quale Press.
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Lola Ridge Poems
Your love was like moonlight turning harsh things to beauty, so that little wry souls
I have a dream to fill the golden sheath of a remembered day.... (Air
You can see the sandhills from our new room. Butterflies live in the sandhills and lizards
Cool, inaccessible air Is floating in velvety blackness shot with steel-blue lights, But no breath stirs the heat Leaning its ponderous bulk upon the Ghetto
Light! Innumerable ions of light, Kindling, irradiating, All to their foci tending…
Not your martyrs anointed of heaven - The ages are red where they trod - But the Hunted - the world's bitter leaven -
Nasal intonations of light and clicking tongues… publicity of windows stoning me with pent-up cries… smells of abattoirs… smells of long-dead meat.
Art And Life
When Art goes bounding, lean, Up hill-tops fired green To pluck a rose for life.
Crass rays streaming from the vestibules; Cafes glittering like jeweled teeth; High-flung signs Blinking yellow phosphorescent eyes;
I wonder how it would be here with you, where the wind that has shaken off its dust in low valleys
Old plant of Asia - Mutilated vine Holding earth's leaping sap In every stem and shoot
Men die… Dreams only change their houses. They cannot be lined up against a wall And quietly buried under ground,
Tender and tremulous green of leaves Turned up by the wind, Twanging among the vines - Wind in the grass
A late snow beats With cold white fists upon the tenements - Hurriedly drawing blinds and shutters, Like tall old slatterns
Of faces, façades, pawn-shops,
Smoky and fly-blown glass of lunch-rooms,
Odors of rancid life…
Of eyes and windows
Alike devoid of light…