Heather K Adams:
Poetry gives voice to the inner lives of its writers and their experiences of the world.
It also gives voice to our own, putting into words things we never knew we needed to say. These 15 must-read feminist poems contain an array of thoughts on gender and identity and are guaranteed to touch, console and inspire you.
1. “Still I Rise,” Maya Angelou (poetryfoundation.org)
The woman and the poem are iconic for a reason. Angelou was a feminist and an activist, and her work resonated with millions around the world. “Still I Rise” is a banner feminist poem about sexuality, womanhood, and rising above oppression.
2. “Marrying the Hangman,” Margaret Atwood (poetryfoundation.org)
Now well known as the author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Atwood, in fact, wears many hats. “Marrying” is one of her strongest feminist poems, inspired by fact. Once upon a time, condemned prisoners could escape hanging by either becoming the hangman (if you were a man) or by marrying him (if you were a woman). This poem contemplates the nature of prison and also marriage and reminds us, more than once, “This is not fantasy, it is history.”
3. “In Honour of That High and Mighty Princess, Queen Elizabeth,” Anne Bradstreet (poetryfoundation.org)
Talented and strong-willed, Bradstreet is the first female English-speaking poet ever published, and is America’s very first published poet of either gender.
“In Honour of” praises Queen Elizabeth, whom Bradstreet sees as the ideal of a strong, independent woman. By praising a woman who is powerful because of her gender and not in spite of it, this might just be the very first feminist poem.
4. “I Think She Was a She,” Leyla Josephine (Feminist Findings)
Josephine’s work blends dramatic performance with spoken word poetry. In “I Think,” she discusses her experience of having an abortion as a teenager. It includes the refrain, “This is my body. This is my body.” It may be the feminist poem to end all feminist poems, espousing agency over body and identity, and a lack of shame about the choices we make.
5. “Progress,” Rupi Kaur (twentytwowords.com)
Kaur is a poet and illustrator whose thoughts on womanhood, the female body, and recovering from trauma have made her a voice of her generation. Her feminist poems are characterized by short, direct thoughts on her body and her own life experiences. In “Progress,” however, she also meditates on a woman’s responsibility to the women of tomorrow.
Excerpt from fairygodboss.com
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