We turn to poetry to travel, to fathom ‘the other’ as one another, to bear witness, to provoke. We turn to poetry to feel less alone, more like ourselves, to remember home and to come home. Now, as we continue to rise up and resist, we’re turning to poetry. An antidote to the news, Ms. Muse has arrived to fortify—and defy.This Is a Feminist Poetry Manifesta by Chivas Sandage
Ms. Muse is back—and you’ve clicked right into it! Stay tuned for monthly interviews with feminist poets featuring new and rarely seen work, as well as essays about the intersection of poetry, politics and our lives. (Or skip right to the first installment: ‘Only Freeish’ in America.‘)
I’m also excited and honored to announce that another one of the first installments will be about the lost poetry of the late Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller, whose poems were found in her old barn.
My vision is to amplify the voices of a diverse spectrum of women making waves with poetry. Ms. Muse 2.0 will feature several former Ms. Muse poets returning as guest columnists. In this way, I can support a wider range of poets, leverage the privilege of writing for Ms., and readers can discover new communities of writers.
Since 2006, I’ve taught women’s writing workshops and year after year, I witness firsthand how poetry as sustenance—especially poems by writers who identify as women—can make a difference for women, can reset one’s day, the way a good meal can ground and fortify.
When I began writing Ms. Muse in the spring of 2018, I did so knowing that American feminists of every gender needed “an antidote to the news.” A labor of great love, the column was my literary activism while enduring life under Trump.
However, in October 2019, a painful, protracted crisis began to unfold in my personal life and I needed to take a break from writing Ms. Muse. My wife and I had spent years working with close friends in their nonprofit to found an intentional community that ultimately failed spectacularly. Our community became divided under dysfunctional leadership, documented facts no longer mattered and our so-called values became ironic and laughable. We seemed to be a microcosm of what was happening in our country. During that time, COVID cost me my dream day job, then a family crisis erupted.
Now on the other side of those devastating years, I’m writing about the folly of our idealism and the distance between who we think we are, who we are and who we long to be.
Meanwhile, the deepening divisions in our country have proved to be a fatal threat to equal rights for all Americans and to democracy. There has never been a greater distance between who we think we are, who we are and who we long to be. Shortly after June 24, 2022, when the Supreme Court struck down women’s constitutional right to privacy and reproductive choice, I started writing “‘Only Freeish’ in America,” the first installment of Ms. Muse 2.0, which went live on Thursday, July 21.
Poetry gives voice to the voiceless on behalf of women silenced for centuries. Poetry can be potent medicine, essential and redemptive—even lifesaving.This is a Feminist Poetry Manifesta by Chivas Sandage
As I’ve begun to share news of the relaunch, one woman emailed, “I’m so happy to hear Ms. Muse is being rebooted. We need it now more than ever!”
Soon, I’ll announce a call for poems of witness, protest and resistance. Please spread the word to feminist poets who identify as women: If you’re writing about what you’re witnessing, what haunts you and what you’re living, you’ll be invited to send your work to Ms. Muse for consideration. Selections are made entirely based on work submitted—no letter or bio needed.
We are not necessarily seeking women-centric poems, but rather, hoping to find powerful work that reflects women’s lived experiences, observations, perspectives and concerns. And we are open and eager to read the work of poets who write from intersectional perspectives.
Welcome back to Ms. Muse, a discovery place for riotous, righteous and resonant feminist poetry that nourishes and gives voice to a rising tide of female resistance!
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