“So Many Useful Women”: The Pseudonymous Poetry of Marjorie Allen Seiffert, 1916-1938

Audrey Russek, University of Texas at Austin
Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring 2009), 75-96

Marjorie Allen Seiffert, an early twentieth-century poet and participant in the Spectra Hoax, a literary farce designed to debunk Imagism, used literary pseudonyms to express feminist sensibilities while remaining an upstanding member of conservative midwestern high society. Seiffert’s pseudonymous poetry brought into existence virtual personas that integrated her sense of self yet refused to privilege one voice over another. Her multiple personas provided a way of having individuality without breaking from her traditional lifestyle. Moreover, her strategies for becoming a modern woman and poet in her own right reveal much about the complexities of life in an era whose cultural values were dramatically changing. By creating more identities for herself, poetic personas that could express thoughts and feelings she deemed inappropriate for a woman of her stature, Seiffert added her own imaginative twist, reconciling contradictions inherent in a modern woman’s identity.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]