Spring Cleaning with Poetry

Anthony and I have spent the last few days spring cleaning.  It’s always amazing to me how much stuff a couple can gather in a short period of time.  So far, we are getting rid of two bags of clothes and four boxes of books.  Plus, I’ve been trying to download my personal library just a bit, so I have placed many other books on Paperback Swap. But we will still have work that needs to be done.

All of this cleaning reminds me of an anthology I just read, Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework  edited by Pamela Gemin. This collection contains poetry from many of my favorite poets including Jan Beatty, Denise Duhamel, Diane Gilliam Fisher, Allison Joseph, and Judith Vollmer, and as with all anthologies that I read, I was introduced to many new poets as well.

Although I do portray working-class/Rust Belt/blue-collar women in my poems, they seldom are working domestic chores.   Why is that?  I’m not sure — Stealing Dust contains my factory women poems, a sequence I’m rather proud of because we don’t see a lot of factory workers in poetry who are women.  But Stealing Dust also contains a poem titled “Canning Season” which talks about my mother’s kitchen in August.  In “Splintered” I make a passing reference to laundry on clotheslines, but that is it.  Have I deliberately abandoned the traditional women’s world of work at home?  (Or maybe it’s because I’m a terrible housekeeper and don’t want to write about it!)  I’m not sure, but I do believe it’s something that I need to explore  if I am going to continue to write about the working-class world.

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