Oates’s poetry … forms a body of work on its own merits and does not need to be interpreted only as an adjunct to her novels and short stories, as critics have said.

A future assessment of the place of poetry in the Oates canon may well increase its importance; such a reevaluation has happened with other major writers whose poetry was overlooked as the early readership more quickly perceived the message in prose. Poetry’s compressed language releases its power more gradually, but intelligence and verbal brilliance combined with the ‘talk style’ rhythm that is not yet much understood should bring a wider audience to these poems.

—Doris Earnshaw, Critical Survey of Poetry, 4th ed.

Poetry Collections

  • American Melancholy / 2021
  • Tenderness / 1996
  • The Time Traveler / 1989
  • Invisible Woman: New & Selected Poems 1970-1982 / 1982
  • Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money / 1978
  • The Fabulous Beasts: Poems / 1975
  • Angel Fire: Poems / 1973
  • Love and Its Derangements: Poems / 1970
  • Anonymous Sins & Other Poems / 1969

For a fuller accounting of Joyce Carol Oates’s publications, see: The Glass Ark: A Joyce Carol Oates Bibliography


  1. I’ve always loved her poetry. In college I was a member of the forensics team and went all over the Midwest winning awards for my interpretations of poems from her first two books. Students of contemporary poetry ought not to neglect this material.


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