Rochelle Owens in a café in the Ardèches during a riverboat cruise up the Rhone.

Rochelle Bass Owens (born April 2, 1936 Brooklyn, New York) is an American poet and playwright.[1]


She is the daughter of Maxwell and Molly (Adler) Bass. A native New Yorker, Owens studied at the New School for Social Research (now The New School) and University of Montreal. After a brief marriage to David Owens, she married the poet George Economou on June 17, 1962.[2] She has taught at Brown University, the University of California-San Diego, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette).[3]

A pioneer in the experimental Off-Broadway Theatre movement and also influential to the poetry at St.Marks Poetry Project and Deux Megots as a founding participant as well as being involved in the ethnopoetics movement, Owens is widely known as one of the most innovative and controversial writers of this century, whose ground-breaking work has influenced subsequent experimental playwrights and poets. Since its first publication in 1961, her play "Futz" has become a classic of the American avant-garde and an international success. Toronto banned it, an Edinburgh paper dubbed it "lust and bestiality play" but New Yorkers queued around the block when it was first produced in the sixties. In 1969, it was made into a film, which has attained a cult following. Her plays have been presented worldwide and in festivals in Edinburgh, Avignon, Paris and Berlin. Owens' important literary contribution has been the subject of a wide range of scholarship. During the 1960s and 70s Owens' plays premiered in New York City at The Judson Poets Theatre, LaMama ETC., Theatre for the New City and The American Place Theatre. She was a founding member of The New York Theater Strategy and the Women's Theater council. In 1984 after relocating to Norman, Oklahoma, she hosted "The Writers Mind", a radio interview program from The University of Oklahoma featuring creative artists. She currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and Wellfleet, MA. [4]

In 2006 she was celebrated for her achievements at LaMama Theatre in New York in its series, Coffeehouse Chronicles.[5] Her autobiography is published in "Contemporary Authors", Volume 2; Gale Research, 1983. Owens has lectured and read widely in the United States and abroad and has been a participant at the Franco-Anglais Festival de Poesie, Paris. A member of ASCAP, New Dramatists Alumni, and The Dramatists Guild, her poetry and plays have appeared in many journals and magazines including Upstairs At Duroc, Simbolica, Scripts, Yale Theatre, 'Yugen, Plumed Horn, Nomad, Damascus Road, Midwest, New Wilderness Letter, Floating World, Exile, Sulfur, Partisan Review, Trobar, First Intensity, Golden Handcuffs, Mandorla, 13th Moon, Truck, The Cafe Review, Another Chicago Review, Jacket2, Temblor, Poems And Poetics,The Iowa Review and the on-line publication New Verse News. Com. Her controversial poem, "Chomsky Grilling Linguica" has been nominated for two On-line Awards for Best Poetry.


  • 1965, 1967, 1982 Village Voice Obie Awards
  • 1984 honors from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
  • 1971 Guggenheim Fellowship[6]
  • The New York Creative Artists in Public Service Program
  • 1976 The National Endowment for the Arts
  • 1965 The Rockefeller Foundation grant
  • 1993 Rockefeller Fellowship at Bellagio Center
  • 1973 ASCAP Award
  • 1994 Oklahoma Book Award Finalist



  • The String Game, Judson Poet's Theatre, New York City, 1965, published by Methuen, 1969.
  • Futz, Tyrone Guthrie Workshop Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, 1965, then Cafe La Mama Theatre, New York City, 1966, published by Hawk's Well Press, 1962, and Methuen, 1969.
  • Istanboul. Hawk's Well Press. 1968.  Judson Poet's Theatre, 1968, then Actors Playhouse, New York City, 1971
  • Homo, Cafe La Mama Theatre, 1966, later Ambiance Theater, London, 1966, published by Hawk's Well Press, 1968.
  • Beclch, Theatre for the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA, then Gate Theatre,New York City, 1968, published by Hawk's Well Press, 1968.
  • Futz and What Came After. Random House. 1968.  produced in New York City, 1968
  • The Karl Marx Play and Others. Dutton. 1974.  American Place Theatre, New York City, 1973
  • He Wants Shih, produced in New York City, 1971, published by Dutton, 1974.
  • O.K. Certaldo, published by Dutton, 1974
  • Kontraption, published by Dutton, 1974, New York Theater Strategy, 1976
  • Coconut Folk-Singer, published by Dutton, 1974
  • Farmer's Almanac, published by Dutton, 1974
  • Emma Instigated Me, produced in New York City, 1976, published in Performance Arts Journal, 1976.
  • Owens, Rochelle (1977). The Widow And The Colonel. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8222-1252-2.  produced in New York City, 1977, published in Best Short Plays, 1977.
  • Who Do You Want, Piere Vidal?, Theatre for the New City, New York City, 1982.
  • Chucky's Hunch, Theatre for the New City, New York City, 1981, Harold Clurman Theatre, New York City, 1982.
  • Plays by Rochelle Owens: Chucky's Hunch, Futz, Kontraption, Three Front. Broadway Play Publishing Inc. 2000. ISBN 978-0-88145-172-6. 
  • Mountain Rites, Alexander Street Press, 2003
  • Sweet potatoes, Alexander Street Press, 2003
  • Queen Of Greece, Alexander Street Press, 2003, La Mama E.T.C., New York City, 1969


  • Futz Commonwealth United, 1969.


  • Not Be Essence That Cannot Be. Trobar. 1961. 
  • Salt and Core. Black Sparrow Press. 1968. 
  • I Am the Babe of Joseph Stalin's Daughter: Poems, 1961-71. Kulchur Press. 1972. 
  • Poems from Joe's Garage. Burning Deck Press. 1973. 
  • The Joe Eighty-Two Creation Poems, Black Sparrow Press, 1974.
  • Owens, Rochelle (1977). The Joe Chronicles II. Black Sparrow Press. ISBN 978-0-87685-296-5.  (David R. Godine Publisher, 1979 edition)
  • Shemuel. New Rivers Press. 1979. ISBN 978-0-89823-006-2. 
  • French Light. Press with the Flexible Voice. 1984. 
  • Constructs. Poetry Around. 1985. 
  • Anthropologists at a Dinner Party. Chax Press. 1985. 
  • W.C. Fields In French Light, Contact 2 Press, 1986
  • How Much Paint Does The Painting Need, Kulchur Press, 1988
  • Black Chalk, Texture Press, 1992
  • Rubbed Stones and Other Poems, Texture Press, 1994
  • New And Selected Poems 1961-1996, Junction Press, 1997
  • Luca,Discourse On Life And Death, Junction press, 2000
  • Triptych, Texture press, 2006
  • Solitary Workwoman, Junction Press, 2011
  • Out of Ur - New & Selected Poems 1961-2012, Shearsman Books, 2013


  • Leroi Jones, ed. (1962). Four Young Lady Poets: Carol Bergé, Barbara Moraff, Rochelle Owens, Diane Wakoski. Totem-Corinth Press. 
  • Paris Leary, Robert Kelly, ed. (1965). A Controversy of Poets. Doubleday. 
  • Technicians of the Sacred, Doubleday, 1969
  • Inside Outer Space, Anchor Books, 1970.
  • Poems For The Millenium, Vol. Two, 1998
  • North American Women's Plays from Colonial times to the present, Alexander Street Press, 2003
  • The Best Short Plays, 1971, Chilton
  • The Best Short Plays, 1977, Chilton
  • The Best Short Plays, 1978, Chilton
  • All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 60's, Univ. of Calif.,2003
  • Deep Down, The new Sensual Writing by Women, Faber & Faber, 1989
  • The New Underground Theater, Schroeder, Bantam books, 1968
  • New American Plays, Vol.2, Hoffman, Hill and Wang, 1968
  • The Off-Off Broadway Book, Poland, Mailman, Bobbs-Merrill, 1972
  • No More Masks, Howe, Bass, Anchor, Doubleday, 1973
  • America A Prophecy, Rothenberg, Quasha, Random House, 1973
  • A Big Jewish Book, Rothenberg, Lenowitz, Doubleday, 1979
  • A Century In Two Decades, Burning Deck Press, 1982
  • Exiled In The Word, Copper Canyon Press, 1989
  • Light Years, Spuyten Duyvil, Awareing Press, 2010
  • Psyche: The Feminine Poetic Consciousness, Segnitz, Rainey, Dial Press, 1973
  • Rising Tides: 20th Century American Women Poets, Chester, Barba, Washington Square Press, 1973
  • Scenarios: Scripts to perform, Richard Kostelanetz, Assembling Press, 1980
  • The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry, Kale, Granger, Columbia Univ. Press, 2002

Radio Plays

  • Sweet Potatoes, 1977.
  • The Widow And The Colonel, 1976 (Commissioned by the Voice of America Celebration of the bi-centennial year)


  • Oklahoma Too, 1987
  • How much Paint Does The Painting Need, 1991
  • Black Chalk, 1994

Sound Recording

  • A Shaman's Notebook, Broadside Records, 1968
  • The Karl Marx Play (lyrics), Rochelle Owens, (music), Galt MacDermot; Kilmarnock, 1974
  • Black Box 17
  • San Francisco State University, Poetry Center, American Poetry Archives, 1987

Translation (English)

  • The Passersby, Rochelle Owens, Henry Holt Pub., 1993 from the French, Les Passants, Liliane Atlan,


  • Journey To Purity, Texture press, 2009


  • Spontaneous Combustion: Eight New American Plays, Winter House, 1972


  1. ^ Gabrielle H. Cody, Evert Sprinchorn, eds. (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14424-7.  CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Taylor & Francis Group (2004). International Who's Who in Poetry 2004. Europa. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-85743-178-0. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Gabrielle H. Cody, Evert Sprinchorn, eds. (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14424-7.  CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Gabrielle H. Cody, Evert Sprinchorn, eds. (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, Volume 1. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14422-3.  CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  6. ^