Elise Cowen: Poems and Fragments

Author(s): Elise Cowen


Edited and with an introduction and supplementary material by Tony Trigilio. Designed for both general readers and scholars, this book brings together for the first time all of the poems and fragments in Elise Cowen's surviving notebook, recovering the work of a postwar female poet whose reputation had been submerged for more than a half-century. Remembered dismissively as the woman who dated Allen Ginsberg for a brief time in the early 1950s, she wrote hundreds of poems, many in a lyric mode that recalls Sappho and many in a visionary mode that resembles Emily Dickinson. After her suicide in 1962, nearly all of her work was destroyed. One notebook survived, rescued by a close friend, and this notebook is the basis for ELISE COWEN: POEMS AND FRAGMENTS.

"Elise Cowen, an artist long obscured by legend, myth, archival uncertainty and copyright dispute, relegated to rumor and sensation, has been recuperated by Tony Trigilio's groundbreaking collection of her poetry. Trigilio collects the primary material from the poet's recovered notebook and provides, in his indispensable Notes to the Poems, an impressive critical literary historical analysis. A modern Eumenide and proto-second-wave feminist of uncompromising voice, Cowen's searing verse poignantly claims female subjectivity. Thanks to Trigilio's inspired, erudite and meticulous recovery work, this collection will make a profound difference in the way Beat movement writing is reckoned and experienced."—Ronna C. Johnson


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Product Information

Beat generation poet Elise Cowen was born in 1933 into a middle class Jewish family in Washington Heights, New York. While attending Barnard College she began a brief relationship with Allen Ginsberg, remaining close to him the rest of her life. From 1956 until 1962 she moved back and forth between California and New York, struggling with increasingly severe psychological breakdowns. She committed suicide in 1962 by jumping through a closed window at her parents house. After her death, the bulk of Cowen's writing was destroyed at the behest of her parents, who were uneasy with her representations of sexuality and drug use, but a handful of poems and fragments have survived and reached publication.

General Fields

  • : 9781934103494
  • : Small PressDistribution
  • : Small PressDistribution
  • : January 2014
  • : 23.00 cmmm X 16.50 cmmm X 1.30 cmmm
  • : February 2014
  • : January 2019
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 175
  • : en
  • : Paperback
  • : Elise Cowen