Photo: Irene Young

Over fifty years, through twenty books, one a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Susan Griffin has been making unconventional connections between seemingly disparate subjects. Whether pairing ecology and gender in her foundational work Woman and Nature or the private life with the targeting of civilians, in A Chorus of Stones, she sheds a new light on many contemporary issues, including climate change, war, colonialism, the body, democracy, and terrorism. An Emmy award winning playwright and a poet, celebrated for her innovative style, her books are also works of literature.  Woman and Nature, is an extended prose-poem. A Chorus of Stones: the Private Life of War, blends history and memoir as does What her Body Thought, Wrestling with Angel of Democracy: the Autobiography of an American Citizen, all of which belong to a series she calls “a social autobiography.”  The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues, while rendering a radically new interpretation of an erotic tradition, engages in parody by inverting common moralistic judgments against women’s sexuality into virtues. Among her many awards and honors, she has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Northern California Book Award for non-fiction, an honorary doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Commonwealth Silver Award for Poetry. A Chorus of Stones was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the Northern California Book Award, and her play “Voices” was given a local Emmy. Griffin has also contributed a number of essays to anthologies including a collection that, along with psychologist Karin Carrington, she edited for UC Press, titled Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World, with contributions by authors from over 24 countries, that offers a new paradigm for moving the world beyond violence as the first, and often only, response to violence. In 2012, this collection was given the prestigious Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.. She is currently completing a novel, called The Ice Dancer’s Tale, and a long poem about the Mississippi River.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1943, in the midst of the Second World War and the holocaust, these events had a lasting effect on her thinking. The time she spent as a child in the High Sierras and along the coast of the Pacific Ocean also shaped her awareness of the earth and ecology. As she draws connections between the destruction of nature, the diminishment of women and racism, and traces the causes of war to denial in both private and public life, Griffin’s work moves beyond the boundaries of form and perception.

Schlesinger Library Acquires Papers of Susan Griffin and Ruth Rosen

If you are studying Griffin’s work or want to know a great deal more about her,  you will soon be able to find her manuscripts, drafts, unpublished work, research,  correspondence, lecture notes, journals, along with a film she made as a girl, several paintings and drawings and autobiographical material at Radcliffe/ Harvard’s Schlesinger Library where they are in the process of being archived. read article