where the writers are
"Got Women's Writing?"

The Times is publishing my letter protesting an essay, "Got Poetry?" by Jim Holt (April 5), in which a dozen male poets were quoted as delicious to learn by heart.  Women writers not worth memorizing?  Not Emily Dickinson, or Elizabeth Bishop, or Sharon Olds, or Lucille Clifton, or Joy Harjo, or Evie Shockley?  

My letter will be in the Book Review section on April 26th.  Don't hold your breath for big changes--but we have to do what we can!  

Here's to good writing wherever it happens, and to poetry, which often flourishes under the radar! 

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Women's Writing

Good for you, Marilyn! I'll be on the lookout for that letter. It's odd that it hadn't occurred to Jim Holt to include some female writers. Let's hope your letter awakens him.

--Carol Hoenig

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Carol, thanks for your message!

I don't hope for awakening on the part of a fogey, but we do what we can, right?

Here's to unlimited success for all of us!  (That's my favorite toast with other writers--)   Marilyn 

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you rock!

I can't wait to read it!

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Thanks, Jessie!

So do you!  I love the creativity in the photo-montage here.  How did you do that?

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Carol stole my words

"Good for you!"

It's damn annoying, and I can't believe it's still happening in 2009. But, thanks to you, at least now some people will have to wonder why instead of simply accepting it.

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Kristen, you're so right! 2009, no less!

Seems like the Times has taken some steps backward.

Still, we're plucky aren't we?!

Cheers and fierce good wishes to you and your work! Marilyn

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Marilyn, I'm on the road and missed seeing that Holt essay on Sunday. So glad someone (you!) caught that -- and took the time to write a word of complaint (and possibly utter bafflement). It's bad enough that no woman poet was cited in the essay -- either as a poet who memorizes poems or a poet whose poems are worth memorizing -- but to add insult to injury, the only women appearing in the piece at all (unless you count Browning's "Last Duchess" or Marvell's "Coy Mistress") are the "stunningly pretty waitresses" who serve as captive audience for the author's recitation!! Apparently, it's still a (white) man's world ("though," as Aretha Franklin sings, "you can't prove that by me"!)...

Needless to say, I'm honored to be mentioned in the same breath (so to speak) as those amazing poets you list above, and I aspire to belong truly in such company -- but I have a lot of writing ahead of me on the way to that goal, to say the least. : )

Thanks again for calling attention to the gender bias of that essay, Marilyn. Peace.

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Our messages have just crossed paths--thanks for yours!

I'm glad you're on the planet, sister poet!  Who else would I trust to give hugs to Galway, Sharon, Robert, Brenda?

Peace and safe travels, Marilyn 

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Knock 'em dead, Marilyn

Way to go! I read that essay and I'm glad your response will be published. It's very interesting - that essay brought back memories of classroom recitations from elementary school and junior high - not only were the poems all written by men, but they were robustly masculine. I shuddered when 'out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole' came to mind.

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Thanks for your response, Evelyn!

I have flashbacks as well--the days in grad school studying all male writers with all male teachers.

Some things change, thank the goddess!  And some are slower.  Luckily we persist!  

All cheers to you in your work, as ever, Marilyn