Sound of the World Splitting Open
Poems from the Women's Movement.|
Honor Moore, editor.
The Library of America: American Poets Project, 2009.
262 pages, $20 (hardcover).
Poems from the Women's Movement is one of the Library of America's "American Poets Project" series most important volumes. Featuring 58 poets and close to 100 poems that appeared in print between 1966 and 1982, the collection is a vibrant and multifaceted portrait of a time when the voice of American poetry forever changed.
The women in Poems from the Women's Movement altered the language, subject matter, and perspective of contemporary poetry. As editor Honor Moore (The Bishop's Daughter, 2009) writes in her personal and historical introduction, "their enraged feminism and that of their daughters can be seen as a disruption analogous to Modernism and what came after." Moore shows how the Women's Movement not only encouraged the often raw honesty of these poets, but also how they helped to recover the lost history of female writers who came before them.
Organized by the year the poem first appeared in print, some of the works in Poems from the Women's Movement are polemical, befitting the turbulence of the Sixties and Seventies, while others are more lyrical, or use—or play with—form. All strive to give clear and powerful renderings of the lives women actually live.
Drawing not only from writers who went on to become literary household names such as Lucille Clifton and Adrienne Rich, but also less well-known others, and including much-anthologized works along with the unfairly forgotten, the verse in Poems from the Women's Movement create a rising chorus, allowing readers to experience the steadily growing power and bravery of female poets. These writers made it impossible for women by the end of the period to even conceive that any subject was, as Muriel Rukeyser titled one of her works, "Not To Be Printed, Not To Be Said, Not To Be Thought."