Five Feminist Poems for National Poetry Month: 5. “MO[DERN] [FRAME]”

Mourning by Carrie Mae Weems, 2008.

Visual art is often an inspiration for poetry; poems based on visual art are called ‘ekphrastic poems.’ In “MO[DERN] [FRAME]” by Dawn Lundy Martin, Martin writes responses to an image by Carrie Mae Weems, an American artist who, over the past 25 years, has created “a complex body of art that has at various times […]

Five Feminist Poems for National Poetry Month: “4. From ‘Fleet of Nouns’”

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What makes poetry musical? What makes poetry pleasing to the ear? Poets use a variety of tools to achieve the musicality of poetry. In this selection from a long poem by Sina Queyras, she uses anaphora, the repetition of the first words of a line, to build both musicality and a strong, supple power. Queyras […]

Five Feminist Poems for National Poetry Month: 3. “Invisibility Terror: a prose poem”

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Feminist poets often take material for their poems from media headlines. Feminist poets often respond to and rewrite the news of the day in their poems. In “Invisibility Terror: a prose poem,” Cheryl Clarke examines the world post-9/11, making linkages between “Arab and Muslim people” and her own experiences with police officers 35 years ago […]

Five Feminist Poems for National Poetry Month: 2. “Rose and Snow Tell the Field Their Troubles”

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In our second poem for this year’s National Poetry Month, poet Jenny Factor voices two familiar female protagonists, Rose-Red and Snow White. “Rose and Snow Tell the Field their Troubles” is a persona poem: The poet uses the voice of another character—here, the mythical characters from the Grimm fairy tales—to narrate a story. Giving new […]

Five Feminist Poems for National Poetry Month: 1. “The Hawk”

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“Poets are some of feminism’s most influential activists, theorists, and spokeswomen; at the same time, poetry has become a favorite means of self-expression, consciousness-raising and communication.” Jan Clausen, A Movement of Poets, 1982   Thirty-two years later, Clausen’s assessment of poetry remains apt. Poetry is a site of vibrant feminist activism where women give voice […]

Is This A Photo of Emily Dickinson? And Will It Tell Us Who She Loved?

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Emily Dickinson’s highly compressed, powerful poems inspire legions of readers, and Dickinson is one of the most widely revered and critically engaged women writers. Dickinson matters, not only to readers but also to scholars. For feminists, however, our understanding of Dickinson as a preeminent poet of the 19th century is only partial. In 1975, poet […]

National Poetry Month: Rita Mae Brown’s Army of Lovers

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated National Poetry Month on the Ms. Blog with landmark poems from Joan Larkin, Pat Parker, Fran Winant and the anonymous authors of Because Mourning Sickness is a Staple in My Country. Now, we conclude the series with the poem “Sappho’s Reply,” from the number-one-selling book of lesbian poetry […]

National Poetry Month: “Poems By Working-Class Dykes”

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In 1973, Ain’t I a Woman, a feminist newspaper in Iowa City, published and distributed the anthology Because Mourning Sickness is a Staple in My Country, an anonymous collection of “poems by working-class dykes who have been going through changes and writing poems, among other things.” Printed on newsprint, the small book is “designed to […]

National Poetry Month: Yesterday (About Gertrude and Alice)

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In her 1975 poem “Yesterday,” New York-based poet Fran Winant assumes the voice of Gertrude Stein addressing her lover, Alice B. Toklas. The poem animated what lesbians of 1970s knew but history often denied: the intimate and erotic connections between women. Winant—a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front in 1969 and its sister group, Radicalesbians, in 1970—started Violet […]

National Poetry Month: “Have You Ever Tried To Hide?”

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The iconic feminist poet Pat Parker was known not only for her printed work but also for her powerful performances. Parker’s activism with the Black Panther Party and the Black Women’s Revolutionary Council in the 1960s shaped her poetic voice. Her poetry, rooted in the African American oral tradition of call and response, grapples with […]