Saturday, June 06, 2009

For poets of the woman gender: Poetic Justice

From the new venue:

Poetic Justice is an activist website devoted to organizing for gender justice throughout the English-language poetry world. Founded by U.S. poet Annie Finch and U.K. poet Jane Holland, this is a discussion forum where poets can consciousness-raise, share information, and organize actions.

Personally, I think that women-only venues are still justified. Even though there seems to be more women than men writing poems nowadays, and more women are winning editorships and other positions of influence, I'm not convinced that the world treats poems written by women as seriously as those written by men.

Sometimes (shock!) I even find myself in that position. For instance, reading a poem and liking it a lot and finding meanings in the words and all that stuff, then discovering it was written by a woman - which news somehow gives my understanding of the poem a slightly different nuance or colour. Occasionally making the poem work better for me, sometimes worse.

I wish I didn't carry around in my head this baggage of outdated subconscious stereotypes and prejudices; I hope most of that baggage is cultural and I can educate myself to ignore it when it surfaces.

But still: Bad Rik!

1 comment:

  1. Rik, I'm conflicted on whether it's "bad" to be influenced by authorship. I have a naive, non-Derridean take on all this. I was brought up on old-fashioned New Criticism - the ideal of the anonymous, backgroundless poem judged on its "own" merits - and the habit dies hard. It's a relic from the days when a reasonable amount of shared cultural baggage was assumed by the chaps who read poems. Public school, presumably, and most of them chaps. (Remember Leigh Fermor swapping Horace with his German captive under the stars?) But poems are not products of a raw intelligence acting in isolation from society. Humans are social beings, eager for gossip, much though we like to screen out our Hello! mentality in the guise of being intellectual. Added to which is the important role of poet as witness. How would we feel if we discovered Sharon Olds were really a bloke living in Arkansas, and Wilfred Owen spent the War pruning his roses? Should this matter?

    BTW, the forum you mention has gone quiet after a lot of aggressively enthusiastic activity by someone called Tom (possibly a man).