Maggie Nelson’s Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007) provides the first extended consideration of the roles played by women in and around the New York School’s overlapping circles of poets and painters from the 1950s to the present. It offers unprecedented analyses of the work of Barbara Guest, Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, and abstract painter Joan Mitchell, as well as a reconsideration from a feminist perspective of the work of many New York School writers and artists. It covers collaborations between poets and painters in the 1950s and 1960s; the complex role played by the “true abstraction” of the feminine in the work of John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, and James Schuyler; the intricate weave of verbal and visual arts throughout the postwar period; and the unfolding, diverse careers of Mayer, Notley, and Myles from the 1970s to the present. Along the way, it also considers provocative questions of anonymity and publicity, the solitary and the communal, the enduring and the ephemeral, domesticity, boredom, sex, and politics. In asking us to rethink the ways in which we conceptualize “schools” and “avant-gardes,” it eventually poses larger, compelling questions about how and why we read — and how gender and sexuality inform that reading.

Maggie Nelson’s most recent book is a work of art, cultural, and literary criticism titled The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (Norton, 2011), which was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times and came out in paperback in August 2012. She is also the author of a book about the color blue, Bluets (Wave Books, 2009), and a memoir about sexual violence, media spectacle, and her family titled The Red Parts (Free Press, 2007), named a Notable Book of the Year by the state of Michigan. Her Arts Writers project, Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007)received the Susanne M. Glasscock Award for Interdisciplinary Scholarship and came out in paperback in 2012. She has also published four books of poetry, including Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull Press, 2005), which was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Since her Arts Writers grant, she has been the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in nonfiction and an NEA fellowship in poetry. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles.