Rachel Blau DuPlessis (Ph.D., Columbia University, 1970) is known as a poet and essayist, and as a critic and scholar with a special interest in modern and contemporary poetry.
From 1986 until 2012, DuPlessis has been engaged in a long poem project, collected in several book-length installments from Wesleyan University Press and Salt Publishing. The newest book, Surge: Drafts 96-114, will be published by Salt in 2013, bringing this 26-year long poem to a temporary fold. Books belonging to this project are Drafts 1-38, Toll (Wesleyan, 2001); DRAFTS. Drafts 39-57, Pledge with Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (Salt Publishing, 2004): Torques: Drafts 58-76 (Salt Publishing, 2007) and Pitch: Drafts 77-95 (Salt Publishing, 2010). The Collage Poems of Drafts appeared early in 2011 from Salt Publishing.
This work in poetry is the subject of an on-line colloquium and set of essays published in Jacket2 in December 2011 jacket2.org/feature/drafting-beyond-ending
Her recent Purple Passages: Pound, Eliot, Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley and the Ends of Patriarchal Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2012) is part of a feminist trilogy of works about gender and poetics that includes The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice and Blue Studios: Poetry and its Cultural Work, both from University of Alabama Press. Another key critical book by DuPlessis is Genders, Races, and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry, 1908-1934 (Cambridge University Press, 2001).
In early 2012, DuPlessis was a Distinguished Visitor in the English Department at the University of Auckland. DuPlessis has held an appointment to the National Humanities Center in North Carolina in 2008-09. In 2007, she was awarded a residency for poetry at Bellagio, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2002, she received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts; also in 2002, she was awarded the third Roy Harvey Pearce / Archive for New Poetry Prize, given biennially to an American poet/scholar who has made a significant lifetime contribution to American poetry and literary scholarship. In 1999, she received Temple University’s Creative Achievement Award. In 1990, she held a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant for poetry, and in 1993, she received an award from the Fund for Poetry.
A Professor Emerita of English at Temple University since June 2011, DuPlessis is also the author of Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women Writers (1985), H.D.: The Career of that Struggle (1986), both from Indiana University Press, and The Pink Guitar (originally published by Routledge in 1990). She is the editor of The Selected Letters of George Oppen (Duke University Press, 1990), and the co-editor with Peter Quartermain of The Objectivist Nexus: Essays in Cultural Poetics (Alabama, 1999). The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women’s Liberation, co-edited with Ann Snitow, and published in 1998, has been reprinted by Rutgers University Press (2007). She is also the co-editor with Susan Stanford Friedman, of Signets: Reading H.D. (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990).
Poetry by DuPlessis is anthologized In “I’ll Drown My Book:” Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues, 2012), in Poems from the Women’s Movement (The Library of America, 2009), in The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (Reality Street, 2008), in Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews, (University of Iowa Press, 2006), in The Best American Poetry 2004 (Scribners, 2004), in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (Talisman House, 1998) and in Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (Peter Lang, 1996).
Her books of poetry include two chapbooks of Drafts from Little Red Leaves (in 2011 and 2012) as well as Wells (Montemora, 1980, now online at durationpress.com), Tabula Rosa (Potes & Poets, 1987), Draft X: Letters (Singing Horse Press, 1991), Drafts 3-14 (Potes & Poets, 1991), Drafts 15-XXX, The Fold (Potes & Poets, 1997) and Renga: Draft 32 (BeautifulSwimmer, 1998).
In 2013 a translation of Brouillons (comprising twenty drafts) by Auxeméry with the collaboration of Chris Tysh will appear from José Corti (Paris). Also in 2013, a translation of ten Bozze (rendered into Italian by Renata Morresi) will appear from Vydia (Macerata), An Italian chapbook of another Draft will appear from La Camera Verde (Rome). Some of her work in poetry has already been translated into French as Essais: Quatre Poèmes (Un Bureau Sur L'Atlantique, 1996). Her poetry and essays have also appeared in Serbian, Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Her scholarly articles have appeared in such periodicals as The Kenyon Review, Diacritics, Modernism/Modernity, Contemporary Literature, MLQ and American Literature and in anthologies from the university presses of Virginia, Michigan, Cambridge, Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Princeton. Recent work includes an entry on “Social Texts and Poetic Texts” for The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and an essay on “Gender” for T.S. Eliot in Context. Her critical/scholarly work and creative essays have been anthologized in Poems for the Millennium, vol. 2 (University of California Press); Artifice and Indeterminacy: New Essays in Poetics (Alabama); H.D. and Poets After (Iowa); Dwelling in Possibility: Women Poets and Critics on Poetry (Cornell); The New Feminist Criticism (Pantheon); Why the Novel Matters (Indiana); Essentials of the Theory of Fiction (Duke); Narrative/Theory (Longman); Conversant Essays: Contemporary Poets on Poetry (Wayne State); Virginia Woolf: A Collection of Critical Essays (Prentice-Hall); and Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames (Ohio State).
DuPlessis is affiliated editorially with jml (Journal of Modern Literature), and with book series on contemporary poetry and poetics from the University of Alabama and the University of Iowa presses. She is currently the scholarly and acquisitions editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s series in “Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics.” She has also served on the boards of Contemporary Women’s Writing, Sulfur, Sagetrieb, Feminist Studies, Modernism/Modernity, and HOW(ever).
An interview of DuPlessis conducted by Jeanne Heuving appears in Contemporary Literature (2004); an interview conducted by C.A. Conrad is posted on the internet.