Ms. Muse: Melissa Studdard on the Power of Poetry to Create the World We Want

Ms. Muse is a discovery place for riotous, righteous and resonant feminist poetry that nourishes and gives voice to a rising tide of female resistance.

How do you redeem a woman’s worst nightmare lived—or at least one of them? How do you give a mute, silenced or dead woman a voice? These are a few of the questions answered by Melissa Studdard’s poems.

“after I died / I put my clothes back on. / Like women do. / When everything has been taken.”

National Youth Poet Laureate Finalist Jessica Kim on Writing as a Road to Self-Discovery

National Youth Poet Laureate Finalist Jessica Kim wasn’t always a writer—in fact, she did not start writing until three years ago, when the pandemic seemed to shear all facets of normalcy.

Founder and editor-in-chief of The Lumiere Review and author of L(eye)ght, Kim never thought of poetry as something that could exist anywhere except in her own headspace. “Finding something that clicks with you and only you and not someone who would judge or review your work is extremely important in viewing yourself not only as a writer but as a very being.”

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.

Poet Victoria Chang Is Done Apologizing for Her Ambition

Victoria Chang’s website lists her as “poet, writer and editor”—but just three words can’t contain all that she does or who she is.  She is also a teacher at Antioch University, MBA graduate, editor of the New York Times Magazine’s poetry column, Guggenheim fellow, YA novelist and children’s picture book author, as well as other hybrid work.  She’s also a mother, friend and tireless advocate for more representation within the literary world.

In this interview, we discuss her influences, past and present projects, and how claiming ambition is still contested for a woman in the literary world.

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.”

National Youth Poet Laureate Alyssa Gaines Breaks Down the Realities for Young Women in a Post-Roe World

Young people are taking to the streets to protest, lobbying their elected officials and taking to activism in droves to make abortion accessible for those who need it. National Youth Poet Laureate Alyssa Gaines is using her writing to affirm the need for abortion care and to reach those most impacted by anti-choice legislation.

“It’s my responsibility to reach out and try to connect to those people instead of just writing them off.”

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.”