Born in New York, Rukeyser later pointed to the silence of her home as her inspiration for writing. Her education at Vassar was interrupted by her father's business failures and so she began her career as a journalist writing about Southern racism and the Spanish Civil War. She wrote for various journals and her first book, Theory of Flight (1935), received the Yale Younger Poets Award. Her poetry expressed her growing social consciousness during a time when many artists were retreating from politics and she was criticized by many of her contemporaries. Yet her work continued to wrestle with Jewish existence, the brutality of war, and injustices the world over; she later protested the Vietnam War. As a single mother, she often wrote about her own identity as a woman, as a Jew and as an artist.
Sources: Jewish Women's Archive