Thursday, January 24, 2008

Supporting Women Poets

Okay, it’s been a few days, but Jilly at Poetry Hut asked about the lack of exposure for women poets. Personally, I think the bigger question is: Are we, women artists and readers supporting each other? Who are we reading? Whose collections do we own and are we going to readings featuring women?

So what do you do? If asked, could you easily rattle off ten women poets you regularly read or list their collections you own? If you can, please share.

It’s a no-brainer for me. I run a women’s lit group, operate a community library that is predominately filled with books by and about women. My home library is the same.

What about you?


Whirling Dervish said...

Hey Susan,

This is a good call; I am NOT doing a good job on this score- in fact, I think I would be hard pressed to name more than 10 women poets, let alone say I own any of their collections. You have inspired me- this week my goal is to discover 5 new women poets.

We have to support each other as women- in all our endeavors, not just poetry.

Thank you for the reminder and inspiration!

susan said...

Let me know if you'd like any recommendations. I love, love, love talking about the work of the women I admire.

pia said...

My cable isn't working at home. Will probably be off line until Monday afternoon

Went through a long period of only reading women authors

I will give you suggestions next week--after 2.5 hours on the phone or waiting for the cable company I'm spent

But it's a great question

Yes one of my goals in moving is to live in a calm place where I don't pay a kings ransom for the pleasure of being told to f--k myself basically

Sorry very very angry--meant to say I hope to be published often

Just wrote a forward for part of a book that promises to be big--its about disabilities

Was told I'm getting a "special" intro--but I want to be published for fiction

susan said...

Hey Pia, don't apologize. Sometimes we're angry and that's okay.

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing pisses me off.

Who cares if you are a woman?

We should view people based on how good their work is; why can't they be a good poet instead of a good woman poet?

Now, I'm not saying it's bad to showcase them, but I'd rather be considered a poet than a "young male" poet.

paisley said...

i am here simply as a lurker,, as i am interested in any names of great poets that may be flung out...
so fling away!!!!

i make no distinction,, sexually or otherwise,, a well written line wins my heart every time...

susan said...

So who do you read, Noah?

paisely, if Noah bothered to read the original post, I said I enjoy reading quality writing period. So if I enjoy reading women, then I consider the poet's work quality writing. Who do you read?

paisley said...

well.. i emailed you my particulars,, but as far as net poets are concerned,, ones that i have found recently and stand in awe of their work,,, might i suggest:
"laurie macfayden" whom i only just learned about last week,,yet find myself anxiously awaiting her next entries,, and
"mary a. kaufman" i stand in awe of her work,, not simply because she is 88 years old,, but also because she minces no words,, and does not pussy foot around "the issues" as she sees them...

i would love to hear your suggestions as well,, net or otherwise....

susan said...

paisley, I haven't checked my email. Would mind listing favorite published poets here? I'm toggling at the moment but I will post a list shortly.

susan said...

Audre Lorde
Nikki Giovanni
Sonia Sanchez
Tracy K. Smith
Rita Dove
Gwendolyn Brooks
Naomi Nye Shiab
Sandra Cisneros
Adrienne Rich
Jane Hirsh
Jane Kenyon
Mary Oliver
Emily Dickinson

I'm a poor speller, otherwise I would have listed more. This took me less than minute. And yes, I own work by each one listed. They are not ranked in any order.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I must have misinterpreted it.

I didn't really mean anything about your post in general--

It's just a topic that recently started bothering me. If the poet is African-American they are seen as a great "black" writer. If they are a woman, it's a great "woman" writer.

I wasn't trying to imply anything, though.

Ugh; I need to learn how to communicate properly.

susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
susan said...

Well I am black and a woman. I don't give a free pass for either. That doesn't however negate my affinity for both. :-)

Anonymous said...

susan--i posted this reply to your comment on this issue on my blog, but then thought it would be good to put it here instead:

susan-- i'd been reading some of the discussion about women poets. good news is i read/prefer women poets over men. my challenge is finding new collections by women. the book stores seem to have the "famous" folks. maybe one of us on one of our websites needs to put links to publishing houses who sell women's collections directly to the public or to women poets who sell directly ...

i don't feel like i have enough information to make it easy to find contemporary women poets and to purchase their collections with ease. i've done some of it on amazon myself but i don't always have the time to sort through things there.

do you think that could be part of it?

Anonymous said...

i just read the discussion again. i get more out of it each time. susan--i love your list of poets and many of them are close to my heart, as well. so many of those names are readily available (at least here in NYS) in book stores.

the place i think we could make a difference is by buying (or requesting from our libraries) poetry collections by newer female poets. that's what makes most sense to me.

i think we'll all continue to support the well-known, established and accomplished female poets because that's relatively easy to do. the way to make a dent is to add the element of supporting/reading/purchasing the new/emerging female poets.

susan said...

Hey Polkadot, you realize it's your fault that I'm stirring the pot, right? LOL

I think to find more contemporary poets we will have to list small press collections and anthologies- these are harder to find, but I find them and if we list them, the dedicated will start looking for them. Where should we share the list?

Thanks for weighing in here.

Anna said...

Well, I'm a woman and I'm a poet. I do read poetry of other women and I have linked to them on my blog.

I was always a fan of Emily Dickensen and Christina Rosetti, when I was a teanager. But also of men, like Byron and Shelly.

susan said...

Hi Anna,
Would share a short list of your favorites here? Thanks for joining the discussion.

Anonymous said...

My current favorite poet is Sylvia Plath. I named my 12-string acoustic after her.

susan said...

Noah, I have you read The Bell Jar?

...deb said...

After I read you post I wondered what gender I'd been picking up since I got serious about reading more poetry. Going through the pile on my desk, I'd say it's about a 2:1 ratio of men to women.

Some were selected "for me" (Jesicca's poetry book club) and some were random collections I picked up because they looked interesting or based on name recognition.

I really pay no mind (consciously) to gender or race - other than what is available in the bookstore; my usual is Powell's, a rockin', largest-in-the-world bookstore with rows of poetry books. I'm lucky, I know.

But here's my most recent woman-list:

Carolyn Forche
Chase Twitchell
Linda Hogan
Natasha Tretheway
Matthea Harvey
Kim Addonizio & Dorianne Laux (a good poetry how to)

Others I like off the top of my head, but haven't yet bought:

Mary Oliver (I get to go to a reading next Tuesday!)
Lydia Davis
Denise Levertov
Sylvia Plath
Sharon Olds
Sharon Bryan

What I am reading next because of a poetry class I start Sunday (my kind of church!) (1/2 of books are by women poets.)

Linda Bierds
Adrienne Rich

I have a few collections. I didn't include them, or the writers whose work interest me due to other people's recommendations.

Good post, and something worth talking about.

Anonymous said...

No, I definitely don't do enough. The whole thought rankles me. I need to do more. I'm with Whirling dervish - I'm going to discover more female poets, but better yet, I need to find more women in my community who write.

I like Nikki Giovanni, Linda Gregg,
Matthea Harvey (I'm reading Modern Life for 9 to 5 book club), Louis Gluck, and Ann Sexton to name names that come off the tip of my tongue.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read The Bell Jar, but I did recently get "The Collected Poems" of Sylvia Plath.

Is it good?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Women Poets I read regularly or have read recently or own collections by include:

Margaret Attwood, Ruth Padel, Carole Anne Duffy, Jackie Kay, Tracey Herd, Frieda Hughes, Susan Richardson; Esther Morgan, Berta Freistadt, Morelle Smith,

just off the top of my head. Plus I have a number of anthologies of women's poetry and of course there are the women blooging poetry too

Anonymous said...

women poets whose books or chapbooks I read recently and it was really enjoyble:

Cate Marvin
Rebecca Loudon
Natasha Tretheway
Arielle Greenberg
Arianne Zwartjes
Mary Jo Bang

Anonymous said...

getting something started ... here ... a place to point your fellow poets to poetry collections by women

susan said...

Carolee, You rock! You know I'm in. My motto is, "Damn whatcha you're saying, how you livin'?" Join us at Poetry Collections By Women.

susan said...

Crafty Green Poet, I've read a little about Jackie Kaye. What would you recommend? Can you provide links to any of her poems?

Crafty Green Poet said...

HI Susan - sorry to take so long to get back to you on this, here is a link to some audio from Jackie Kay:

My favourite collection of hers is probably Other Lovers. I also really enjoyed her novel Trumpet