For a lot of us poetry has been fundamental in giving us a way of expressing ourselves and processing our feelings and thoughts. The power of poetry and spoken word performances cannot be undermined. However, poetry has not always given women the spaces that they deserve. More recently, female poets have come to the fore, using and adapting the form in order to express personal, and often distinctively female, experiences. To celebrate that, and poetry month itself, we have selected a few of our favourite contemporary female poets to share with you.
I remember the first time I heard Shrinking Women by Lily Myers – when she performed it on College National Poetry Slam years and years back. It resonated with me. I had all but forgotten about it, until a few weeks ago when I read Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World. Reading the poem again, so many years later, I felt as moved as I did the first time.
The poem is powerful because it draws from a topic that is close to the hearts of too many women. It’s almost too relatable. Everything Myers puts forth in Shrinking Women feels too palpable. And her performance of it only gives it more strength.
Afterwards, when I looked up Myers on google, I was delighted to see that she has an upcoming book in verse, entitled This Impossible Light.
Myers is definitely a poet to watch. If a single poem that she wrote can resonate with me – and many others – on such a deep level, I can’t even imagine what an entire book can do.
Follow Lily Myers on Twitter: @lmyerspoetry
I discovered Amanda Lovelace’s poetry completely by accident. I remember I used to follow her on tumblr and goodreads because I really enjoyed reading her opinions on various books. And then one day I realised, Amanda Lovelace wasn’t just an avid reader – she was also a writer!
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going into Lovelace’s poetry. While I love poetry, I’ve always found it quite difficult to sit down and actually read collections of poetry. I have many poetry anthologies, but I have yet to make much of a dent in any of them. Yet, Lovelace’s poetry follows a pretty simple trajectory that allows you to become completely immersed within it. I devoured her collection within the space of an hour, wishing that I had more – or had at least spent a little more time experiencing it for the first time.
Her debut collection, The Princess Saves Herself in This One isn’t just a poetry collection. It’s a story that is told through different poems – a story that starts with heartbreak and pain, and we, as the reader, go through the healing process with the poems too.
Lovelace is due to release a second poetry collection entitled The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One.
Follow Amanda Lovelace on twitter: @ladybookmad
I discovered Amaal Said through a youtube video of her spoken word a few years ago. Her poems explore various things – including womanhood, death, and war. What they all have in common is that they’re all incredibly palpable and visceral. Her own readings, and performances, of them make them even more so.
Along with being a poet, Said is a photographer. I believe she brings the same kind of life to photography, as she does to her poetry.
Follow Amaal Said on twitter: @amaalsaid
Suggested by Adiba Jaigirdar
It is usually by chance that I come across material that I connect with. Sarah Kay’s work was no different. I came across her poetry on youtube in the “related videos” session after indulging myself with Taylor Mali’s spoken word poetry videos. But it was on her TED talk that I discovered my favourite poem “If I should have a daughter”. I have listened to it countless times and it still comforts me whenever I got back to it.
Sarah Kay is an inspiration to me. She is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E., “a group dedicated to using spoken word as an educational and inspirational tool” and it is no wonder that she was invited to give an inspiring speech at Scripps College for college graduates.
I never tire of listening to her. Her words are warm even when the poems are reflections of painful experiences; they still produce that comforting feeling inside. She shares with her audience the fragile, painful, conflicting and sometimes gentle experiences of being a human being. They are reflective and relatable.
Sarah Kay’s debut collection: No Matter The Wreckage
Follow Sarah Kay on Twitter: @kaysarahsera
The internet can be a wonder box. From poem to poem I landed on Hollie Mcnish’s work , a 33min long performance where she reads several of her poems. Hollie Mcnish is a British poet, author and spoken word artist. Her poetry shines a light on real everyday struggles. She has a way with words, she creates a whole scene in the listener / reader’s mind and puts things into perspective. One of my favourite poems is Megathron.
She writes about political issues, about pregnancy, sex, breastfeeding and all that comes after giving birth to a child. As a woman who wants to be a mother and who is very concerned with parenthood and everything involved in it, I find her poems very comforting and thought-provoking. She keeps it real. She talks about the physical and emotional aspects involved in the whole process and the challenges of being a mother and someone’s partner at the same time. She talks about how stressful sex can become following the birth of a child, as well as the ridiculous recrimination of women breastfeeding in public in a society where boobs are everywhere in magazines, advertising and music videos.
I like her poetry because she writes about what is not usually written about in poetry and less so discussed so openly. She is not afraid of talking about the common and challenging aspects of living. I admire that in her work.
Watching her performing her poems is bliss. Her poetry gives the listener something to reflect on and relate to.
Hollie McNish’s book collection: Plum, Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood, Why I Ride: Because a Bike Pedal Lasts Longer Than a Gas Tank, Papers.
Follow Hollie McNish on Twitter: @holliepoetry
It was on instagram that I first came across Lang Leav’s poetry. Lang Leav is an international best-selling author and is very well-known on social media. Her poems are very relatable, raw and sometimes quite melancholic. I am quite fond of her love poems. It had been a long time since I last indulged myself with romance and her poetry brought me back to that.
The reflective poems about love are the ones I tend to revisit the most, where she reflects on the impact of loving someone more than one loves oneself. Reflections about the fears we may have, the pain we may hold and about how sharing love can be so beautiful and yet often challenging. She writes poems about the many loves one can have through a lifetime with all the pain and losses as well as the bliss, joy and lessons that come with being in love with someone.
Lang Leav’s book collection: Sad Girls, The Universe of Us, Memories, Lullabies, Love & Misadventure.
Follow Lang Leav on Twitter: @langleav
Suggested by Amanda Faccioli