Sandra M. Gilbert

Ghost Volcano: Poems

Gilbert (Emily's Bread) gathers her poems written in memory of her husband whose sudden death in 1991 she chronicled in prose in Wrongful Death (Norton, 1995). The lyric poems of the sections titled "Widow's Walk" comprise a dated, chronological narrative in which she tracks the stages of grief, closely considering personal and philosophical aspects of loss in each. In the first of these poems she and a friend fly over "the grooved grim face" of Mount Rainier: "My husband's face, I told her. Dead/​ and gigantic and frozen in reproach...a mirage on the horizon:/​ ghost volcano."

These poems, all tied to Gilbert's specific experiences of mourning, come in groups separated by four less clinically self-aware, wider-ranging and more forcefully emotional elegaic works. In one of these, "Notes on Masada," Gilbert addresses her husband's Jewish heritage during a visit to Mea Shearim. Reminded that she's not Jewish, Gilbert replies: "I know. I know a Jew must be born/​ from the mother, from the bloody/​ flesh: the zealots wouldn't/​ have bothered to strike me dead?would they?/​ at the hot top of Masada." Vulnerable, bitter and courageous, Gilbert confronts grief directly and endures.

--Publisher's Weekly

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.