Poetry Friday: Poetry and the Provocative

shapcott Do women write or want to write “female poetry”? Jo Shapcott, president of London's Poetry Society and the author of more than ten books of poems, chaired the society's panel on The Female Poem recently. In last week's Guardian, Shapcott offered this exploration of the question and other questions that saunter along beside it. She may not offer answers, but she provokes thinking on the subject. We invite your comments about what you think.

Many of the poems in my next book are influenced by the artist Helen Chadwick, whose early work made much use of images of her own body – until a change in the late 1980s. She wrote: "I made a conscious decision in 1988 not to represent my body ... It immediately declares female gender and I wanted to be more deft." I think I am in love with the word "deft", which seems to me to describe exactly how a poet should be – but apart from that I was intrigued by the idea of art that might not declare gender. When I applied the idea to poetry I saw how prescriptive we can be – particularly as readers – in our assumptions about the influence of gender on writing.

Read more at Women's Voices For Change.

Women's Voices for Change: http://womensvoicesforchange.org

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