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Katha Pollitt


Katha Pollitt is well known for her wit and her keen sense of both the ridiculous and the sublime. Her “Subject to Debate” column, which debuted in 1995 and which the Washington Post called “the best place to go for original thinking on the left,” appears every other week in The Nation; it is frequently reprinted in newspapers across the country. In 2003, “Subject to Debate” won the National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary. She is also a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.

Pollitt has been contributing to The Nation since 1980. Her 1992 essay on the culture wars, “Why We Read: Canon to the Right of Me…” won the National Magazine Award for essays and criticism, and she won a Whiting Foundation Writing Award the same year. In 1993 her essay “Why Do We Romanticize the Fetus?” won the Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Many of Pollitt’s contributions to The Nation are compiled in three books: Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism (Knopf); Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture (Modern Library); and Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time (Random House). In 2007 Random House published her collection of personal essays, Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories. Two pieces from this book, “Learning to Drive” and its followup, “Webstalker,” originally appeared in The New Yorker. “Learning to Drive” is anthologized in Best American Essays 2003.

Pollitt has also written essays and book reviews for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Harper’s, Ms., Glamour, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and the London Review of Books. She has appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered, Charlie Rose, The McLaughlin Group, CNN, Dateline NBC and the BBC. Her work has been republished in many anthologies and is taught in many university classes.

For her poetry, Pollitt has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her 1982 book Antarctic Traveller won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her poems have been published in many magazines and are reprinted in many anthologies, most recently The Oxford Book of American Poetry (2006).  Her second collection, The Mind-Body Problem, came out from Random House in 2009.

Born in New York City, she was educated at Harvard and the Columbia School of the Arts. She has lectured at dozens of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brooklyn College, UCLA, the University of Mississippi and Cornell. She has taught poetry at Princeton, Barnard and the 92nd Street Y, and women’s studies at the New School University.

  • June 12, 2007

    Of Groceries, Abortions, and Nice, Classic Handbags

    I was planning to start this blog by writing about The New York Times Sunday Magazine's special issue on income inequality -- Larry Summers (him again!), John Edwards, class conflict on Fisher Island and much more. But a practical instance of what true poverty means was waiting for me in my inbox this morning, in the form of an email from Heather Robertson of the Equal Access Fund of Tennessee, which helps poor women pay for their abortions. Heather writes:

    "I just received a very desperate plea from a local clinic for funding for a patient that I will be unable to help. Our fund has assisted 5 women this month and after giving this woman $200, we have depleted our funds without completely helping her at all. Please read further:

    "We need $400 more in order to pay the fee $850 fee of a 2nd trimester patient who HAS to be seen tomorrow, or she'll be too far along to be seen in the state of Tennessee. In that case, her fee will increase even more and have to pay the traveling expenses, as well.

    Katha Pollitt

  • Law June 7, 2007

    Tough Luck, Ladies

    The Roberts Court rules that six months into being screwed by your boss, pay discrimination is your own damn fault.

    Katha Pollitt

  • Religion May 24, 2007

    ‘Feckless’? No Way!

    Who says American feminists have ignored the plight of Muslim women?

    Katha Pollitt

  • Regions and Countries May 10, 2007

    ‘Democracy’ Is Hell

    In a gruesome marriage of technology and medieval barbarity, an Internet video records the stoning death of a 17-year-old Kurdish girl. Welcome to the new Iraq.

    Katha Pollitt

  • Law April 26, 2007

    Regrets Only

    The Supreme Court's recent antichoice decision shows how deeply disinformation has seeped into the abortion debate.

    Katha Pollitt

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  • Education March 15, 2007

    Europeans Do It Better

    In an overpopulated and warming world, isn't it weird that governments are encouraging large families?

    Katha Pollitt

  • Politics January 19, 2007

    Ayatollah D’Souza

    Dinesh D'Souza revs up the Republican base with a book arguing that lifestyles of the decadent left triggered Muslim anger that led to 9/11.

    Katha Pollitt

  • Elections January 4, 2007

    Happy New Year!

    Resolutions for liberals.

    Katha Pollitt

  • Politics December 14, 2006

    Ho-Ho-Holiday Donations–2006

    Give a gift that will make the world better.

    Katha Pollitt

  • Society December 4, 2006

    Double, Double Toil and Trouble

    "Is it just my imagination, or are women wreaking more evil than usual these days?"

    Katha Pollitt