On the Last Poem from the Summer

I have revised (and in many cases, sent out) every poem I wrote this past summer, except for one.  This poem has been especially frustrating to me because I really want it to work.  Still, when I read through the lines, I’m seeing a lot of boring language and clichés.  Worse yet, I’m really not sure if an audience will make the connections I want them to make in this particular piece.  I’m writing a poem about playing in the abandoned strip mines as a kid and the connections to growing up (aka the changes in a female body).  I know that may not make a lot of sense to those of you reading this post, but I do think the poem can work — it’s just not working right now.

So, when a poem is not working, I often find myself reading other poets who explore similar themes.  I have lots of ideas about landscape — but I’m wondering: who writes about the female body in an honest way without diving into clichés?  Any recommendations?  Maybe you have written a poem that does this that you would like to share?  Sharon Olds’ work comes to mind, but I am drawing a blank on any others…Suggestions are welcome.

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4 Comments »

  1. Adrienne Rich’s Diving into The Wreck… Nancy Pagh’s No Sweeter Fat…

  2. Karen Said:

    Adrienne Rich is always a must — but I forgot all about Nancy Pagh’s No Sweeter Fat — that’s also my bookshelf!

    Thanks Jeannine!

  3. There are probably more, but I’m not thinking of them. Maybe Cadaver Dogs by Rebecca Loudon?

  4. Kelli Russell Agodon’s breast cancer poems in “Small Knots” left me breathless.

    In an earlier age, Marge Piercy wrote fierce feminist poems about the female body. I still remember first lines from a poem from the 80’s, which I’m paraphrasing here: “No woman decides to go on a diet while soaking in a bathtub.” Her book “The Moon Is Always Female” (one of my all time favorites) includes a poem about middle aged women jogging together.

    Margaret Atwood too. There’s the poem about the hooks and eyes, “You fit into me like a hook fits into an eye” (again, a paraphrase from memory–the real poem was two or 4 lines and shocking in it’s brevity and harshness.


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