Celebrating Poetry and Female Poets

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to “celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.” Many people, established writers and novice poets, often do a “challenge” to write a poem a day for the entire month of April. Even though the month is well underway, jump in if you like to write! Even if you’re not off writing your own poetry, we can celebrate spirit of this month by learning about some legendary women poets who vividly express the timeless and varied truths of womanhood and what we like to call, being a Fierce Woman.

A classic poem that celebrates women and encourages self-love is Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman.”

It brilliantly flips the script on the ways we often feel insecure about our physical appearance and instead celebrates our inner beauty, confidence and essence.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
It’s a reminder that we are most attractive when we are being ourselves, authentically and unapologetically!
Margaret Atwood is another powerful poet who wrote about bucking societal expectations of women’s roles. In her poem, Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing, she dismisses the limited career options that are available to women, and the narrow perception of how women should live their lives.
The world is full of women
who’d tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
Atwood’s words are timeless especially since today many women are choosing a less traditional life path of the “steady 9 to 5″ to become entrepreneurs and follow their dreams.
Poetry doesn’t always look or sound like written prose on a page. There’s also spoken word which has gained popularity over the last few decades. One incredible spoken word artist is Staceyann Chin, who gained popularity after co-producing and performing in Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.
In the below clip, starting at 1:30, Chin states: “So I think one of the most radical things a girl can do is to own her body. And we learn so young not to own these bodies of ours.” Truth. Then she goes into a brilliant narrative of her first period, complete with anecdotes about the fear and shame of asking her auntie for help, learning about how to use pads, and the disgusting smell of scented pads. She nails one of the many reasons why we offer 100% natural products and exercises one of the many suggestions we offer in dealing with symptoms of PMS.

Poetry also exists in songs. Lyrics are another form of poetry, it’s just set to music! One of the classic songs about how industrialization affects our environment is Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” which I first heard from the Counting Crowes and Vanessa Carlton remake. It’s a pretty prophetic work considering current conversations about climate change, deforestation, urbanization and organic foods.
They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees Please!

The song has a lovely light and airy vibe but still serves as a cautionary tale to appreciate the beauty of our environment and to protect it fiercely because once it’s gone…it’s gone.

Share with us one of your favorite poems and even one you wrote yourself. Let’s celebrate poetry together!

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