Poetry Anthology Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

50th Anniversary Commemoration of the fire

C. C. Marimbo announces the premiere publication of 2011: Walking Through the River of Fire: 100 Years of Triangle Factory Fire

posted by Julia Stein,  Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 12:55pm

C. C. Marimbo announces the premiere publication of 2011:

Walking Through the River of Fire:  100 Years of Triangle Factory Fire Poems

Edited by Julia Stein with an introduction by Jack Hirschman

On March 25, 1911, a fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. The bosses had locked the doors; the fire escapes broke. Within the hour 146 immigrant workers—mostly women–were dead. The Triangle fire galvanized a national social justice movement to protect workers’ health and to build unions.

The anthology of poems is organized to tell the story of the fire chronologically:   the first group of poems deals with the fire itself and those who died, those who survived, and those who witnessed. The next group of poems describes identifying the bodies and the funeral. The third section describes the trial and organizing for new laws to make it safe to work. The last group of poems looks back at the fire years later. These poems tell a dramatic, gripping story in a way that actors or poets can producer readers’ theater or poets’ theater to engage the audience in the Fire.

This book of poetry commemorates the 100th anniversary of this fire that rocked New York. The poetry here remembers this tragedy that it may not be forgotten, that the conditions that caused this conflagration are not recreated, that the event is stamped upon history, that the necessity of unions is remembered, and  that each life lost in the fire is valued.

A few days after the Triangle fire in 1911 Yiddish poet Morris Rosenfeld published in Yiddish his “Memorial to Triangle Fire Victims” on the front page of the Jewish Daily Forward. After a few years American poets forgot about the fire, forgetting for 55 years. When editor Julia Stein was a young poet in 1980 writing poetry about her grandmother’s generation of immigrant garment workers, she first wrote about the Triangle Factory fire inspired by Morris Rosenfeld’s poem.  Then through the work of literary critics Janet Zandy and Karen Kovacik, Stein discovered a new post-1980s generation of poets writing about the Triangle fire. These new Triangle poets are Chris Lllewellyn (1981); Mary Fell (1984); Hilton Obenzinger (1989); Carol Tarlen (1996),  Ruth Daigon (2001);  and Alice Rogoff (2010).

Some of these poets’ Triangle poetry won major poetry prizes: Llewellyn’s book won the Whitman Award for Poetry while Mary Fell’s won the National Poetry Series. These poets attack the sweatshop, recapture the lives of immigrant women and of women workers, and inscribe workers’ lives and tragedies into literature. These poets have reacted to the post-1980 growing inequality in the United States with their Triangle fire poetry. The poems here are only a small selection of 100 years of literature about Triangle fire: a growing body of poetry, novels, dramas, and performance pieces. This small group of American poets is  producing a new American poetry:  public, historical, and engaged with society.

Walking Through the River of Fire:  100 Years of Triangle Fire poetry

36 pages, hand-sewn limited edition,


For further information:  Randy Fingland, CC. Marimbo


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