Lola Ridge (12 December 1873 Dublin – 19 May 1941 Brooklyn) was 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 21st century.
Life and writings
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.
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.
- My doll Janie has no waist
- and her body is like a tub with feet on it.
- Sometimes I beat her
- but I always kiss her afterwards.
- When I have kissed all the paint off her body
- I shall tie a ribbon about it
- so she shan't look shabby.
- But it must be blue -
- it mustn't be pink -
- pink shows the dirt on her face
- that won't wash off.
- I beat Janie
- and beat her...
- but still she smiled...
- so I scratched her between the eyes with a pin.
- Now she doesn't love me anymore...
- she scowls... and scowls...
- though I've begged her to forgive me
- and poured sugar in the hole at the back of her head.
- -- from Sun-Up and Other Poems
- The Ghetto, and Other Poems, Huebsch, 1918.
- Sun-Up, and Other Poems, Huebsch, 1920; Lightning Source Inc, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4099-0190-7
- Red Flag, Viking, 1927.
- Firehead, Payson & Clarke, 1929.
- Dance of Fire, Smith & Haas, 1935.
- Lola Ridge at Modern American Poetry
- Works by Lola Ridge at Project Gutenberg
- The Ghetto, and Other Poems
- Sun-Up, and Other Poems