Ms. Muse: The Coffee Must Be Excellent and We Must Dance—to Defy Russia

The following poems of resistance are written by five poets who identify as women or once did. These poems are about our lives, our mothers and grandmothers, our younger selves and changing selves. The myths, lies and abuse we were raised on. Our beauty and our truths, our lovers and marriages, children and childlessness. The particular deals we make with our lives and “the true honey of freedom.”

Our poetry and stories—our songs—bring us together, remind and ignite us, and make us strong.

Ms. Muse: Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller’s Lost Poems

Before she became the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and the first woman to be chief of a major tribe, Wilma Mankiller published a poem about “the edges of / something called freedom.” But until now, the world has not known that this great chief, community developer, activist and author also wrote poetry throughout her life. With the support of Charlie Soap, Mankiller’s husband for over 30 years, editors Frances McCue and Greg Shaw found the magazine and nine other poems tucked randomly into boxes of paperwork stored in Mankiller’s old barn in August 2021. They wanted to publish her lost poems to show “how an activist reflected on her life through art and that art itself is activism.”

Ms. Muse: ‘Only Freeish’ in America

“For the first time in my life, I felt allergic to poetry. A radical, rogue Supreme Court decided Americans with uteruses no longer have the human right to control our own bodies but are subject to the whims of our state. I couldn’t bear to read a poem. … Then came Independence Day. The painful irony of a July 4 on the heels of such profound loss of liberty left me suddenly hungry for words. I needed poems the way some need scripture.”