cover image Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet

Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet

Terese Svoboda. Schaffner (IPG, dist.), $29.95 (648p) ISBN 978-193618-296-1

In this dense and heavily researched tome, poet and fiction writer Svoboda (A Drink Called Paradise) resurrects the fascinating life and work of Lola Ridge. She was recognized at her death in 1941 as “one of the leading poets of America,” but is now unread. Ridge, an Irish immigrant who lived in New Zealand and Australia before coming to the U.S. at age 34 in 1907, became a fixture of the modernist movement. Svoboda illuminates Ridge’s friendships with Marianne Moore, Emma Goldman, and others, as well as her mentoring of writers such as Hart Crane and Jean Toomer, and her involvement in left-wing causes, including the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. A lively, nuanced, and complex portrait emerges of a Communist sympathizer, feminist, and anarchist who abandoned her child and two consecutive husbands to pursue artistic freedom while speaking in a “searing voice” for the marginalized and oppressed. Svoboda nearly overwhelms Ridge’s own story with descriptions of almost every writer and artist she encountered. Still, amid all the detail, one can grasp the psychology and ambition of a talented, driven woman for whom “art and activism were one” and who deserves remembrance not just as “a fulcrum for modernism” but as a premier poet in her own right. (Jan.)