Poetry in Introduction to Women’s Studies

With September underway, I am in the 4th week of the new semester, which means lots of work writing and researching, and also teaching.  For the third time (solo) I am teaching “Women, Art and Culture” which is our humanities Intro to Women’s Studies course.  We learn about the feminist art movement, visit musuems in DC, read “Dykes to Watch Out For” by Alison Bechdel, “Feminism is For Everybody” by bell hooks, “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure” by Dorothy Allison and Shara McCallum’s “This Strange Land.”.  We are also reading an assortment of essays by folks like Gloria Anzaldua and Audre Lorde. It is an awesome class, and I really enjoy teaching it.

Each semester I try and get more poetry on the syllabus.  This past week we read a chapter from TV Reed’s “The Art of Protest” called the “The Poetical is Political” about the role of poetry in the women’s liberation movement.  He argues that poetry was a key part of the way that women shared experiences, and that it should be considered as equally dramatic and political as other types of protests.

We watched this slam poetry piece:

And read Audre Lorde’s “Who Said It Was Simple,” Lucille Clifton’s “The Lost Baby Poem,” and “The Boy” by Marie Howe.

The class really liked the poems, and I have now decided to start each class with a poem, either reading it myself, or showing a video of the poet reading it.  I have shared with them “Albino” by Lucille Clifton and plan on sharing Shadab Zeest Hashmi’s “Ghazal for the Ninth Month” on Thursday.  (By the way if you don’t know about Split This Rock (which is where I read Hashmi’s poem,) you should check them out!) One of the things that I emphasize in class is the importance of learning about women artists, poets, and writers, as women’s work is not often taught in standard classes.  I want them to leave the class at the end of the semester with new words, ideas, languages, poets, poems, and stories in their minds.

So, who are your favorite women and/or feminist poets? Whose work should I share?


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