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Women poets

Yesterday, or so my f'list tells me, was National Poetry Day. The BBC, in celebration, posted the nation's top ten poets. None, as brisingamen observed, were female. Five females made the also-ran list. She challenged her readers to come up with a list of (at least) ten female poets. Here's what I got out of reading all the post and comments responding to her challenge (although I have failed to stick with the UK):

Sappho, Bronte, Angelou,
Smith, Brown, Hacker,
Stein, Plath, Montagu,
Sexton, Bishop, Parker,

Rich, Duffy, Dickinson
Plath, Teasdale, Livesay,
Webb, Wright, Winterson,
Walton, Yolen, Katsuri.

"Female poets? Worthy? Pro?"
"I can't think of any, no."



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
I haven't thought about it enough to defend or strongly condemn the BBC on this one yet (though it does seem a bit odd to say the least)...
However at least some of the people you list, may not be thought of as poets, especially if one's idea of a poet is someone who starves in a garret and occasionally sends out a few verses of prose as their only written work. For example, Maya Angelou does not spring to my mind as a poet, but as a writer (of prose), despite being both, because I happen to have read 3 of her books and zero of her poetry.
Oct. 9th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
I failed to include Mary Stewart since I suspect almost no one thinks of her as a poet; but I have a volume of her published verse.

You're right that not everyone I've listed escaped the metaphorical poetic garret, but that's true of some of the men already on the BBC's list too.

I included some poets on this list whose work I don't know, but which were listed in other peoples' comments or posts; largely in the name of scansion, rhyme, and other peoples' authority.
Oct. 9th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
I've read Angelou's poetry and I wouldn't include her on the list!

I would, however, add Eavan Boland, Denise Levertov and Muriel Rukeyser.
Oct. 9th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Barrett-Browning doesn't even get a look-in on the BBC site; that seems a rather glaring oversight to me!
Oct. 9th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
And to me! I couldn't fit her in very conveniently since her name is so long. She would have taken up 2/3 of a line all on her own. (But, under the circumstances, I feel okay discriminating on the basis of length of of name.)
Oct. 9th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Funnily enough , more of my favourite prose authors are female than male but for poetry it's the other way round.

This may be explained by the fact that almost all the poems on my list would be 50 years or more old but relatively few of the books would fall into that category.

Oct. 9th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Interesting challenge. Without getting down my Norton, I'd probably fail. However, one springs immediately to mind:

Aemelia Lanyer - first woman to have her work printed in the UK. Her work is phenomenal, and so very controversial - I still can't believe it got published at all. I find Eve's apology so emotive. Made a recording of it a while back...

Edited at 2009-10-09 04:41 pm (UTC)
Oct. 9th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
What about Christina Rossetti? Mary Oliver? Audre Lorde? Oh, I see, they got mentioned but their names were tough to include. I'm interested that almost no one mentioned Margaret Atwood's poetry, which is intimate and wonderful. Also no mention of Mary Oliver, either, which is too bad.

I do love the rhyme, though, and will send it along to my poet mom.

Edited at 2009-10-09 04:50 pm (UTC)
Oct. 9th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah...Rossetti was barely passed over for poet laureate.
Oct. 9th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
You know I can't even come up with any male poets. But then I've never really gotten the appeal of poetry if it's not an analysis exercise for English class or set to music.
Oct. 10th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
This is awesome!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )