Lola Ridge (1873–1941) ranked during her lifetime among major American poets, winning, for example, the prestigious Shelley Memorial Award twice, in 1934 and 1935. In her instructive and insightful biography, Terese Svoboda explains that the prize is “still given to an American poet every year, ‘selected with reference to his or her genius and need, by a jury of three poets—one appointed by the president of Radcliffe (now Harvard), one by the president of the University of California at Berkeley, and one by the Poetry Society of America’s board of governors.’ ” Ridge received rave reviews throughout her career, beginning with The Ghetto and Other Poems (1918), which established her reputation as a poet exploring the gritty environs of New York’s Lower East Side, where she also perfected her persona as a half-starved, tubercular figure virtually...


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