favorite poetry books

Women’s Voices Matter

The gift of good literature that someone else has already edited: that’s what I gave myself as the Gyroscope Review reading period for the Crone Power Issue drew to a close. I needed to read for pleasure now, relax a bit before I dove into formatting the fall issue. Since Margaret Atwood was everywhere these past few weeks in anticipation of her latest work of fiction (The Testaments), I abandoned poetry for a moment to read The Handmaid’s Tale and clear my head.

Perhaps this is not how most people clear their heads, with a work of dystopian fiction that feels altogether too possible in the age of Trump. I finished reading it on 9-11 right after I watched New Yorkers remember the fall of the World Trade Center towers on CBS This Morning.

What I was really doing was moving from weeks of reading the words of older women poets to gulping down the words of just one formidable woman writer. Atwood’s book, written in the mid-Eighties, still feels like a warning, like a call to pay attention and speak up before that option is ripped away.

With that realization fresh on my mind, I thought about how it is that women get their words out there at all, how our experiences vary from insanely lucky to horribly disadvantaged. How women sometimes suppress or oppress one another. How women might lift each other up.

It’s that last thing that I really hope for, of course; that last thing is the driving force behind having a Crone Power Issue of Gyroscope Review. Older women, in particular, have so much to offer whether through the art they (we) make, the support offered, or the wisdom shared. With all the divisiveness going on in the world, there is ample opportunity to heal divides and wield our words with certainty, clarity, and power.

Since our Crone Power Issue won’t be out until October 1, I thought I’d share a small and completely subjective list of work by women poets that has gotten my attention this year. Some of this work is old, some is new, all of it contains skill with words and images that will surgically alter your heart. You’ll recognize some names here, and others will likely be new to you. And I hope our upcoming Crone Power Issue will find a place on bookshelves beside these also-wise women.

Happy reading. And may this list nudge you to seek out more women’s voices.

Margaret Atwood, Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.

Francesca Bell, Bright Stain. Pasadena: Red Hen Press, 2019.

Alexis Rhone Fancher, The Dead Kid Poems. Bellingham: KYSO Flash Press, 2019.

Kari Gunter-Seymour, Serving. Parma, OH: Crisis Chronicles Press, 2018.

Kristin Laurel, Questions About the Ride. Charlotte: Main Street Rag, 2019.

Mary Oliver, Red Bird. Boston: Beacon Press, 2008.

Emily Skaja, Brute. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2019.

Elizabeth S. Wolf, Did You Know? Studio City: Rattle Foundation Press, 2019.