Winged Words

This week's review examines the life of modernist poet H.D., analyzing how her work applies to feminism, imagism, and gender studies.

Winged Words: The Life and Work of the Poet H. D.

Hollenberg, Donna Krolik. Michigan, 2022
394p bibl index, 9780472133017 $85.00, 9780472220069

Winged Words: The Life and Work of the Poet H. D. book cover.

In this new biography of H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Hollenberg (emer., Univ. of Connecticut) deftly weaves together historical fact and the poet’s literary output to tell the story of a woman who is now a major figure of modernism. This was not always the case. Interest in H. D.’s work waned in the post–WW II era until a new generation of scholars, informed by feminist theory, sought to revivify the study of figures such as H. D. and restore them to their proper place. Consequently, her work has increasingly been viewed as a cornerstone of the influential imagist movement in early-20th-century poetry. Along the way, Hollenberg touches on H. D.’s fascination with other topics, including psychoanalysis, spiritualism, and the then-new medium of film. For contemporary readers, H. D.’s lived experience and literary explorations of such topics as bisexuality and gender fluidity resonate particularly well. Hollenberg’s biography is clearly the product of a lifetime’s study of the poet. It will appeal to both new readers of H. D. and longtime students of her work. The writing throughout is lucid and engaging.

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
Reviewer: J. W. Moffett, Gateway Community and Technical College
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Women’s & Gender Studies, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Studies
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Apr 2023

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