14 March 2014

Feminine Rhyme

Sunday March 9th, one third of the way through Women’s History Month, a day notable across America for clocks sprung forward—or (oops) not—was also International Women’s Day. Keeping with that theme, here are some noteworthy, current tidbits about women and poetry.

Poet, activist, and scholar Sonia Sanchez has published a list of numerous events at locations across the US on her website. Check them out. You might be near one or be inspired to organize one like these for next year. Not a joiner or event organizer? Check them out anyway for the names of poets you might want to read.

For the first time ever, “all five poet laureates of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland this year are women.” This article in The Guardian links you to four of them and includes samples of their work. In America, since 2012, Natasha Trethewey fills the position officially known as The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for her second term, but there have been only twelve women out of forty-eight laureates since the honor was established in 1937.

If you’re near Austin, Texas at the end of next week, you can check out the Women of the World Poetry Slam 2014 where, according to Poetry Slam, Inc., sponsor of the event, “72 of the best female poets in the world” will compete during the four-day festival. There are also workshops, open mics, parties, and a lot of it free to the general public. Here again, check out the site to be inspired or for new and favorite poets you want to hear more from.

To supplement your historical knowledge of women poets, poet Astrid Alben offers this list of ten that everyone should read. She writes, “by all accounts, female poets aren’t doing too badly,” but that “the challenge lies in bringing female writers to the attention of the people—reviewers, critics and academics—who create and curate the cultural space.”

For those interested in keeping tabs on how women are faring numerically in the publishing world, there’s VIDA, the organization for Women in Literary Arts. VIDA laboriously counts the number of published pieces by women and by men and publishes those results yearly. Among the nearly four dozen publications they track, several are notable publishers of poetry, the biggies, the ones who pay by the word.

Have more to add about women and poetry? Please comment.

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