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Collection Overview

Ostriker, Alicia
Alicia Ostriker Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
52 boxes, 21 linear feet, 1 GB, and 18,032 digital files
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-37; P-000051; B-000702; B-000703; B-000704; B-000705; B-000706; B-000707; B-000711; B-000708; B-000709; B-000712; B-000710; B-001579; B-001580; B-001581


Alicia Ostriker (1937- ) is a Jewish-American feminist literary critic and poet whose work explores themes of family, social justice, Jewish identity, Biblical stories and characters, and the relationship between gender and literature. The collection consists of drafts of her poems, articles, nonfiction books, essays, reviews, and student writings, personal and professional correspondence with fellow poets, family, and friends, teaching and research files, drafts and recordings of lectures and readings, and subject files.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of Alicia Ostriker's drafts and proofs of poems, nonfiction books, critical commentary, essays, articles, reviews, interviews, and other writings for various publications, as well as some unpublished writings, song lyrics, student writings, and drawings. Ostriker's extensive personal and professional correspondence includes letters exchanged with friends and fellow scholars and poets, along with reader mail and family correspondence. Her correspondents include many of the best-known American poets of the post-World War II period, such as Adrienne Rich, Robert Bly, Toi Derricotte, Stephen Dunn, Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Sharon Olds, Robert Pinsky, and May Swenson. Teaching and research files from Ostriker's time as a professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University from 1965 through 2004 also comprise a portion of the collection, as do teaching materials related to poetry and midrash writing workshops she lead at many institutions around the world, drafts and recordings of her readings and lectures, and a small group of miscellaneous subject files regarding events, publishing, and various other topics.


The collection is arranged into the following six series: Writings; Correspondence; Teaching and Research Materials; Lectures and Readings; Subject Files; and Additional Papers.

Collection Creator Biography:

Ostriker, Alicia

Alicia Suskin Ostriker was born on November 11, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York, to David and Beatrice Suskin. The Suskins moved to Manhattan when Alicia was six years old so that she could attend the Hunter College Elementary School for gifted children. During her high school years at Fieldston School, Alicia discovered poets on her own: Whitman, Keats, Donne, Auden, and others. "Each of them confirmed, in one way or another, the connection of the soul to the body," she later wrote.

Ostriker entered Brandeis College on full scholarship in the fall of 1955. While there she met and fell in love with a Harvard physics major named Jeremiah P. Ostriker. "Finally there was someone with whom I could speak without caution," she wrote of him. They were married in December of 1958. Ostriker earned her B.A. from Brandeis in 1959, and an M.A. (1961) and a Ph.D. (1964) from the University of Wisconsin. Her first child, Rebecca, was born in 1963. A second daughter, Eve, was born in 1965, and her son, Gabe, was born in 1970. Both a feminist literary critic and a poet, Ostriker published Vision and Verse in William Blake, her first book and an expansion of her dissertation, in 1965. Her first collection of verse, Songs, appeared in 1969.

In 1973, Ostriker co-founded the poetry cooperative US1 with Rob Tulloss. The group continues to meet weekly in the Princeton area, and its literary magazine U.S. 1 Worksheets, has been published continuously since the 1970s.

Ostriker came to prominence as both a poet and a critic in 1986, when she published her prize-winning volume The Imaginary Lover, a collection of poems, and Stealing the Language: The Emergence of Women's Poetry in America, in which she makes a controversial argument concerning the women's poetry movement in the postwar and post-1960s America. Her 1994 midrashic volume, The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions, re-imagines biblical stories from "the Beginning" to Job and beyond from a contemporary Jewish woman's perspective. Green Age (1989) includes a seven-poem meditation on the many roles of women in Jewish history and culture. The Crack in Everything, a collection of poems that explores interests ranging from politics to Ostriker's battle with cancer, was published to acclaim in 1996. The Volcano Sequence (2002) continues Ostriker's encounter with Jewish tradition, as does her volume of prose essays For the Love of God: the Bible as an Open Book (2007). Recent books of poetry include The Book of Seventy (2009), At the Revelation Restaurant and Other Poems (2010), and The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog (2014).

Ostriker's honors include the William Carlos Williams Prize (1986), the Paterson Poetry Prize (1996), the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award (1996), the Anna David Rosenberg Poetry Award (1994), the Larry Levis Prize, two Pushcart Prizes (1979 and 2000), a National Jewish Book Award for Poetry (2010), and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation (1984-85), the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (1976-77). She has twice been a National Book Award finalist, and she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2015. Alicia Ostriker is Professor emerita of Rutgers University and teaches in the Drew University Low-Residency Poetry MFA Program.

Collection History


The papers were a gift of Alicia Ostriker in January 2002 (AM 2002-105), with additions in 2010-2021 (AM 2010-102, AM 2012-18, AM 2016-94, AM 2019-48, AM 2021-69, AM 2022-018).


No materials were separated from the collection during 2016 or 2021 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Lisa Dunkley in 2002. Finding aid written by Lisa Dunkley in 2002.

2010-2016 additions were processed and integrated into the existing finding aid by Kelly Bolding in June 2016, with assistance from Kristine Gift (GS). Finding aid updated by Kelly Bolding in June 2016.

2018-2021 additions were minimally processed and added to the existing finding aid as a separate Additional Papers series by Kelly Bolding in July 2021. Finding aid updated by Kelly Bolding in July, August, and December 2021. Born-digital materials were processed by Kelly Bolding in December 2021.

The born-digital materials in this collection have been processed according to Princeton University Library's Born-Digital Processing Workflows. For more information on the workflow, please read our full Born-Digital Processing Information Note.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Several folders (housed in Box B-000710) are closed until the death of the collection creator due to the presence of personally identifiable information. Born-digital files are closed until five years after the deaths of Alicia Ostriker and Jeremiah P. Ostriker, with the exception of a digital folder titled AO JOURNEYS, which will be closed until fifteen years after their deaths.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection contains digital files, which may require specific software or hardware for access. Refer to our Tips on Accessing Born-Digital Content for information on how to render these file formats.

Credit this material:

Alicia Ostriker Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-37; P-000051; B-000702; B-000703; B-000704; B-000705; B-000706; B-000707; B-000711; B-000708; B-000709; B-000712; B-000710; B-001579; B-001580; B-001581