Sandra M. Gilbert


Belongings moves from memories of a childhood apartment where "bars of shadow" are "gathered like silent guardians around /​ the hanging shelf the Wedgwood the piano" to mourning for the fierce passions of a woman who died "far from the simmering fields of Sicily" where she was born, and exploring grief, too, for "the broken ones" who journeyed along with her from "Strada del Purgatorio /​ in Sambuca di Sicilia." Unfolding from this point of origin, the collection broadens to record the "night music" that belongs to the tropics ("A Little Night Music"), the animal masks to which we all belong ("Four Masks"), and, in a concluding sonnet sequence ("A Year and a Day"), the calendar whose turnings shape and furnish both the belongings and the longings of our lives.

“Sandra Gilbert’s poems are beautifully situated at the intersection of craft and feeling. Belongings is a stellar collection by a virtuoso with heart.”
— Billy Collins

“These powerful, graceful poems evoke a world of intense contradictions. Place is made real, with a sensuous exactitude, but only so as to serve a beautiful crisis of displacement, which runs right through this book. These are wonderful affirming poems which never shirk the cost of real affirmation.”
— Eavan Boland

“Sandra Gilbert's... eye chooses the exact perception, her ear lifts it up into a sure music, and her intelligence binds them together into the truly memorable.”
— Gregory Orr

“Lyric yet elegiac, wistful yet wise, deeply felt and formally adept, especially in its coronets of sonnets, Belongings is buoyant with life, from the ghosts who come to visit to the things of this world born afresh. Here is vintage Sandra Gilbert — and the wine is seasoned well.”
— Robert Fagles

“These poems of mourning, commemoration, and burgeoning new life are distinguished by their infectious energies and appetites. Even when their subject is the stuff of tragedy... Sandra Gilbert’s unshaken delight in language and form transfigures all the dread.”
— Chana Bloch

“The poems in Sandra Gilbert’s powerful and heart-wrenching new book, Belongings, explore the intimate connection between grief and love. But what makes this book so essential is not the portrayal of loss itself, but the recognition, implicit in that portrayal, implicit in the very cadences of mourning, of the enduring value of human belonging. This is an unforgettable book.”
— Alan Shapiro

“No one has written about family loss like Sandra Gilbert — her grief, wry wisdom, honesty. Belongings is her finest achievement.”
— Shirley Kaufman

Selected Works


"Skill and passion intersect in this treasure house of a book." -Maxine Kumin

“Sandra Gilbert’s poems are beautifully situated at the intersection of craft and feeling. Belongings is a stellar collection by a virtuoso with heart.” —Billy Collins
Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999

“Richly patterned poems by one of America’s finest poets.”
-Virginia Quarterly Review
Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions

"Gilbert practices a criticism that is careful, precise and methodical in its execution and radically, almost joyfully, revisionist in its intention" -The Washignton Post
On Burning Ground: Thirty Years of Thinking About Poetry

"The essays assembled in On Burning Ground display Gilbert's astonishing range and explore poetics, personal identity, feminism, and modern and contemporary literature."
Death's Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve

". . . brilliantly combines literary and cultural criticism with the intimacy of memoir."
-Joyce Carol Oates
". . . a sensitive and sensible masterpiece."
-Starred Review Library Journal
Wrongful Death: A Memoir
“An enduring contribution to the literature of grief.”
-New York Times Book Review
“A kind of medical detective story.”
-Philadelphia Inquirer
Poetry anthology
Inventions of Farewell: A Book of Elegies
A collection of poetic responses to loss - both consolation and inspiration to any reader.