Feel like supporting women for Women’s History Month? Or maybe you’d just rather explore the vast range of experiences out there in the world of poetry. Whatever the case may be, today we’ll be looking at six incredible poetry collections that were written by women. Get ready to get into your feels, because these poets run the gamut on risky, gorgeous poetry that will have you on your knees!
The Vanishing Princess: Stories by Jenny Diski
…as a child, she had believed in God because it was so clear, so obvious, that he existed. She couldn’t imagine how anyone could think differently. And then, ten years on, the same absolute conviction that there was no deity, no otherness, only the material world that could be seen, heard and felt. How could anyone possibly believe in God? It wasn’t until a further ten years on that she had come to the possibility of agnosticism, and the ability to live with an uncertainty. Even then, she had trouble understanding how anyone could believe firmly one way or the other.Jenny Diski
In technicality, Diski’s work isn’t actually poetry per se –– but we think it should qualify. The stories and anecdotes she relates are poignant and raw, delivering feelings that wound the reader because of how familiar they are. In particular, we recommend the short story, “Bathtime”, which details a woman’s attempt to put together the perfect life through her putting together the perfect bathtub. Diski’s writing will stick you for a very long time if you decide to pick up this valuable gem.
The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón
It is what we do in order to care for things, make them
ourselves, our elders, our beloveds, our unborn.
But perhaps that is a lazy kind of love. Why
can’t I just love the flower for being a flower?
How many flowers have I yanked to puppetAda Limón
as if it was easy for the world to make flowers?
Ada Limón has been writing poetry for most of her life –– she’s got two other poetry collections to peruse, but we decided to recommend The Hurting Kind in particular due to its devastating beauty. The poet delivers some of the most hauntingly evocative lines within this particular collection of poems (for example, “I have always been too sensitive, a weeper / from a long line of weepers”). Her poetry is sure to resonate with the younger generation, as they struggle with their supposed ‘sensitivity’ mirrors Limón’s.
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver
I know someone who kisses the wayMary Oliver
a flower opens, but more rapidly.
Flowers are sweet. They have
short, beatific lives. They offer
much pleasure. There is
nothing in the world that can be said
Sad, isn’t it, that all they can kiss
is the air.
Yes, yes! We are the lucky ones.
Admittedly, Mary Oliver is a favorite of my own. Her poetry transcends all barriers. Devotions is a collection of selected poems that showcase the very best of Oliver’s works. Her poems cover a broad range of topics from the notion of seizing the day, to living authentically without fear of mockery. Oliver passed away in 2019, but her spirit and joie de vivre live on in every line of her unique and spectacular poetry.
The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology by Nathalie (ed. ) Handal
Every time you weep, I feel the surface of a riverElmaz Abi-Nader
somewhere on Earth is breaking.
You wipe your eyes as you read
aloud a letter from the old country.
From the floor, I watch the curls of the words
through the sheer pages.
Your brother and sisters have gathered
around you. I don’t understand
the language but feel a single breath
of grief holding this room.
It’s super important to shine a light on both underrepresented communities and poets of the world. Arab women don’t often get to see their works published, but in this anthology, several talented women’s poetry is both translated and written beautifully. The excerpt above is just one of many handfuls of striking poems about home, family, identity, and womanhood. The range of experience is vast and articulated with extremely tender care!
Forgiveness, your mouthErin Slaughter
is the wet hungering mouth of the world
& its hungering for itself
Poetry, it is said, opens you up to the world. If that is true, then Erin Slaughter’s poetry doesn’t just open you up. No, Slaugher’s poetry cracks you open and leaves you exposed like a nerve. But, in the best of ways. Pick up this anthology if you want to feel the full breadth of emotion –– everything from loss to love, from grief to rage and all that sits in between. Slaughter writes as though she has a hurricane inside her. She aches to let out, and as you read, you’ll want to let that hurricane take you over too.
the lavender haze: sapphic poetry on love by June Bates
the lavender haze:
the high and the heightsJune Bates
sweetness and hunger
the blooming part
love’s equivalent to spring
reaching for her hand
in front of everyone
without ever thinking
June Bates’ poetry is one that is wreathed in a kind of aching sincerity and honesty. The Lavender Haze is a collection of some of her most poignant thoughts on sapphic love and the very act of falling for someone new. For the keen-eyed Swifties out there, yes, the title of the collection definitely harkens to one of Taylor Swift’s dreamiest songs, but you’ll be interested to know there’s more to it than that. Lavender Haze is a saying from the 50s which means being deeply in love with someone and being wrapped up in their ‘love-glow’. Groovy, right?
There are so many astonishing female authors and poets out there to look into –– don’t stop here! Next time you find yourself in the mood to read some heartwrenching poetry, make sure to keep an eye out for these incredible collections and many more!
For more poetry recommendations, click here!
For more empowering reads by women, click here!