poem index

Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a time for us to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of extraordinary, influential women. In particular, we remember the women poets who have helped shape American poetry—innovative poets including Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, and kari edwards. Here we’ve curated a collection of poems, videos, audio, essays, books, lesson plans, and ephemera in tribute to these and other women poets writing today.

Poems by Modern & Contemporary Women Poets

Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history …

In the Waiting Room” by Elizabeth Bishop
In Worchester, Massachusetts …

poem in praise of menstruation” by Lucille Clifton
if there is a river …

Equivalents” by Mónica de la Torre
My child is my mother ...

City Lights 1961” by Diane di Prima
Going there for the first time ...

Because it looked hotter that way” by Camille T. Dungy
we let our hair down. It wasn’t so much that we …

[we fight back to control the outside]” by kari edwards
again, playing with fire ...

Emma Bovary” by Monica Ferrell
I would have liked then for someone to touch me …

The Woodlice” by Aracelis Girmay
The beauty of one sister ...

Helen” by H. D.
All Greece hates …

My Skeleton” by Jane Hirshfield
My skeleton …

"Disciplines [This is how much fortuitiveness weighs]" by Dawn Lundy Martin
This is how much fortuitiveness weighs ...

Plastic Cookie” by Cate Marvin
Like a teapot, I’m tipped to spill from my kettle snout …

our happiness” by Eileen Myles
was when the ...

All the Names We Will Not Know” by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before dawn, trembling in air down to the old river …

Suddenly” by Sharon Olds
And suddenly, it’s today, it’s this morning …

Exclusively on Venus” by Trace Peterson
Roses are red / violets are transsexual ...

Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath
I have done it again…

Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich
First having read the book of myths …

Ballad” by Sonia Sanchez
forgive me if i laugh …

Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid” by Diane Seuss
Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it …

Her Kind” by Anne Sexton
I have gone out, a possessed witch …

Beasts” by Carmen Giménez Smith
My siblings and I archive the blanks in my mother's memory ...

Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah” by Patricia Smith
My mother scraped the name Patricia Ann from the ruins …

Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus, or The Mulata” by Natasha Trethewey
She is the vessels on the table before her: …

Three Fragments of Instan” by Cecilia Vicuña
alba saliva

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Audio Poems

We have no choice in the bodies that hold us” by Holly Amos

WWE” by Fatimah Asghar

“From an Italian Postcard Factory” by Margaret Atwood

For the Sake of Retrieval” by Linda Bierds

The Dragonfly” by Louise Bogan

homage to my hips” by Lucille Clifton

Weathering Out” by Rita Dove

Moon for Our Daughters” by Annie Finch

For the Stranger” by Carolyn Forché

Witchgrass” by Louise Glück

The Girl I Call Alma” by Linda Gregg

Cleis” by Marilyn Hacker

The Map” by Marie Howe

A Woman’s Delusion” by Susan Howe

Shooting the Dog” by June Jordan

The Black Unicorn” by Audre Lorde

To Go” by Heather McHugh

Landscape with Clinic and Oracle” by Lynn Melnick

Present Tense” by Harryette Mullen

After the First Child, the Second” by Mary Austin Speaker

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Poems by Women Poets from History

The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain …

If thou must love me … (Sonnet 14)” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
If thou must love me, let it be for nought …

The Sun-Dial” by Adelaide Crapsey
Every day …

You Foolish Men” by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
You foolish men who lay …

The Soul selects her own Society (303)” by Emily Dickinson
The Soul selects her own Society —

I Sit and Sew” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson
I sit and sew—a useless task it seems …

Poppies on the Wheat” by Helen Hunt Jackson
Along Ancona’s hills the shimmering heat …

Venus of the Louvre” by Emma Lazarus
Down the long hall she glistens like a star …

Life” by Henrietta Cordelia Ray
Life! Ay, what is it? E’en a moment spun …

Old Houses” by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Old loveliness, set in the country wind …

"Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake]” by Christina Rossetti
I dream of you, to wake: would that I might …

[Like the very gods]” by Sappho
Like the very gods in my sight is he who …

Interlude” by Edith Sitwell
Amid this hot green glowing gloom …

The Answer” by Sara Teasdale
When I go back to earth …

Life” by Edith Wharton
Life, like a marble block, is given to all …

On Virtue” by Phillis Wheatley
O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive …

To a Young Girl at a Window” by Margaret Widdemer
The Poor Old Soul plods down the street …

Essays from and about Women Poets

Going for Motherlode: On Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born by Miranda Field

Field discusses Adrienne Rich’s manifesto, along with feminism and the notion of “women’s poetry.”
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Brooks, H. D., and Rukeyser: Three Women Poets in the First Century of World Wars by Marilyn Hacker

Hacker considers these three poets in the context of the extreme social and political changes that were occurring in the world during the first century of world wars, and how they chose to respond to those changes in their own work.
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Visibility Is Poor: Elizabeth Bishop’s Obsessive Imagery and Mystical Unsaying by Katie Ford

Ford peeks into the mind of Elizabeth Bishop as her obsessions—maps, moons, animals, oil, gasoline, colors—appear again and again in her poems.
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Shot Through with Brightness: The Poems of H. D. by Marie Ponsot

“Badly anthologized for decades as Ezra Pound’s Imagiste acolyte, she is best known by only her earliest poems,” Ponsot writes of H. D., and seeks to provide a more wholesome look at the work of H. D. throughout her literary career.
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Impossible Poetry? On Gertrude Stein by Anne Waldman

Waldman takes a look at Gertrude Stein’s serial poem Stanzas in Meditation, particularly “Stanza XVI,” which Waldman dubs “a seemingly impossible text,” a “heroic foray into uncharted poetic territory” and a “wild experiment begging patience.”
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Laying Blame: The Legacy of Sylvia Plath by Mark Wunderlich

Wunderlich considers the life and work of Sylvia Plath and asks: “[Is] it possible—even for a short time to read and study her poems independent of her life story? How [is] it that we [have] come to see her creative work as a sort of extended suicide note, rather than as the work of an emerging poet whose career and output had been cut short by a tragic, early death?”
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The Young Insurgent’s Commonplace-Book: Adrienne Rich’s “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law” by Marilyn Hacker

Marilyn Hacker discusses the personal, literary, and feminist importance of Adrienne Rich’s “Snapshots of a Daughter-in Law.”
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Double-Bind: Three Women of the Harlem Renaissance by Anthony Walton

Walton discusses Jessie Redmon Fauset, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Georgia Douglas Johnson, and the challenges they faced as black, female poets.
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Women of the New Gen: Refashioning Poetry by Diann Blakely

Diann Blakely discusses “The New Gen” and asks: “How are the New Gen poets different, and how are they like their stateside cousins?"
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Notable Books

No More Masks!
No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Women Poets, edited by Florence Howe
Organized chronologically, the poems in this anthology span seventy-five years and trace a concise history of women’s poetry and women’s lives in twentieth century America.

The Poetry of Arab Women
The Poetry of Arab Women, edited by Nathalie Handal
This anthology showcases the work of over eighty accomplished and emerging Arab women poets, including Etel Adnan, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sabah al-Kharrat Zwein.

Not for Mothers Only
Not for Mothers Only: Contemporary Poems on Child-Getting & Child-Rearing, edited by Catherine Wagner and Rebecca Wolff
The anthology includes nearly eighty poets writing on topics such as adoption, parenting guide books, and single parenthood, in poems that address the politics, difficulties, and satisfactions of mothering.

Selected Poems of Marianne Moore
Selected Poems by Marianne Moore
Selected Poems includes many of Moore’s best-loved poems, including “The Jerboa," “No Swan So Fine,” “The Steeple-Jack,” and “To a Snail.”

Tender Buttons
Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein
Published in 1914, Tender Buttons is one of the great Modern experiments in verse.

Collected Sonnets
Collected Sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Collected Sonnets, published in 1941 and compiling work from over twenty-three years and ten books, is a testament to her twinned obsessions.

The Bean Eaters
The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Bean Eaters explores African American life through subjects like home, family, war, racism, and poverty, drawing heavily on Chicago’s south-side neighborhood of Bronzeville.

The Complete Poems
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
In 1960, her complete work appeared for the first time in one complete edition, with all 1,775 poems restored to the original, unaltered versions that Dickinson had intended.

Live or Die
Live or Die, Anne Sexton
Her most celebrated collection, Live or Die, is a fictionalized memoir of her recovery from mental illness. Each poem is dated as she moves from the opening lines of “And One for My Dame,” to the closing lines of “Live.”

Diving into the Wreck
Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich
In 1973, in the midst of the feminist and civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, and her own personal distress, Rich wrote Diving into the Wreck, a collection of exploratory and often angry poems, which garnered her the National Book Award in 1974.

Geography III
Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop
The publication of her last book, Geography III, signaled Bishop’s widespread recognition among the general public.

Ariel
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Part of the Confessional movement, Plath’s work in Ariel is intensely personal, addressing themes of motherhood, sexuality, marriage, and her experiences with depression.

Voyage of the Sable Venus
Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, Robin Coste Lewis
“The black side of my family owned slaves”: That’s a key line in the first and the last of the poems in Lewis’s varied first collection, whose poems short and long braid her own family history into a wider trajectory from ancient Egypt to present-day Sri Lanka, New York City, and New Orleans.

Innovative Women Poets
Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews, edited by Elisabeth Frost and Cynthia Hogue
This anthology features fourteen full-length literary interviews with innovative female poets of the previous forty years, with introductions and a selection of their poems.
Word Warriors

Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, edited by Alix Olson
This anthology, edited by internationally touring spoken word artist Alix Olson, collects the work of thirty-five female spoken word poets of different styles and backgrounds.

Fire on Her Tongue
Fire on Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry, edited by Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy
This anthology features over seventy contemporary female poets of different ages (spanning the ages thirteen to ninety-one) and backgrounds, including Kim Addonizio, Nin Andrews, Jane Hirshfield, Rachel Zuker, and more.


 

Lesson Plans

Complicated Identities: On Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck”
Clarifying one’s identity is a process that goes on throughout life. “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich speaks to the complicated process of finding, and defining, oneself.

 

Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community, “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye
This lesson plan, part of the series “Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community," provides a sequence of activities that you can use with your students before, during, and after reading “Gate A-4.”

 

Poet-to-Poet: From “Manatee/Humanity” by Anne Waldman
This lesson plan presents a series of activities that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and encourages your students to engage in a multimedia experience with the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors.

 

On Marilyn Nelson’s My Seneca Village
This lesson plan is based on Marilyn Nelson’s poetry collection My Seneca Village (Namelos, 2015), in which she recreates Seneca Village, a multiracial neighborhood that existed in 19th-century Manhattan.