Subverting the “Girlie” Calendar: October

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Ms. October I do adore October’s blue sarong, the sliding slits along her whistling hips, and I would die to kiss her ruby lips for all the wet and rotting leaf night long. A “girlie calendar” makes one think of men’s lockers, walls of auto repair shops or a military barracks: They’re typically collections of […]

Ruining the “Fun”: Patricia Lockwood’s Slippery Poetry

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In a dark coincidence, the author of the widely-shared poem “Rape Joke,” Patricia Lockwood, released her second book of poetry just four days after the Isla Vista killings. Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals deals with the objectification of and violence against women in a mystical, gritty and surprisingly elegant way, and though the timing was certainly not intentional, […]

Still We Rise: Remembering Maya Angelou

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Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? In this verse from what is arguably her most beloved poem, “Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou dares to delight in the black female body, a body that has borne the brunt […]

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 […]

When Women’s History Comes Alive

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Studying, understanding and honoring women of the past, whether in America or across the globe, most commonly follows two themes. First, the rediscovery of women’s lives and contributions can be summed up in the image described at a recent Women’s History Month luncheon I attended:  We stand on the shoulders of the women who came […]