Monday, July 04, 2011

Ladies First?

I love male poets. My bookshelves are stocked with new and established writers of the male persuasion. Yet, I never seem to hear any buzz or swirl or momentum when it comes to new titles written by women. Why is that?

If women are at least half of the book-buying public, why aren’t we routinely topping any best sellers lists (Mary Oliver excluded)? I’m strictly speaking of women poets with three books or less. Are men more frequently signed by bigger-named publishers with better marketing machines, or are they just better at self-promotion? Are men even buying books by women? Or, as it was put to me on Twitter, are women buying books by women? (Forgive the sweeping generalization. I know there are men who buy collections written by women. But the lists speak for themselves.)

So, tell me about the up and coming women poets we should watch.

The short list that follows, sparked by this post, are women poets we should watch for. It is by no means all-inclusive, and certainly not as diverse as it should be. But it’s a start. Feel free to suggest names and I’ll update the list regularly. (updated 7/7/11)


LL Barkat
Kristy Bowen
Traci Brimhall
CM Burroughs
Jehanne Dubrow
Katharine Flenniken
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Cynthia Marie Hoffman
Karen Kovacik
Keetje Kuipers
Rebecca Loudon
Karyna McGlynn
Erika Meitner
Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Susan Rich
Tracy K. Smith
Annette Spaulding-Convy
Martha Silano
Alexandra Teague
Molly Tenenbaum
Maureen Thorson
Rhett Iseman Trull
Kary Wayson
Katharine Whitcomb

For the record, I buy books by men and women. And over the next few months, I will purchase a collection by every person on this list, because I believe in walking the walk.

And after we’ve created this great list, what then? How do we support these women on their journeys to reach a wider readership?

12 comments:

Jeannine said...

Thanks for the shout-out, January! And I agree!
One thing I've been doing is trying to promote women by doing book reviews and interviews with women writers. Every time we mention someone on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook, our blogs, and in literary journals, it's got to have a ripple effect, right?

Sandy Longhorn said...

I feel the same way, January. I write a lot of reader-response posts on my blog that feature women poets, although I include men as well.

The most important thing we can all do is try to buy books of poetry when possible, and if possible to buy them directly from the presses themselves. Money talks. Then, we blog and tweet and FB and share the love for all the poets, male & female.

Kelli Russell Agodon
Beth Ann Fennelly
Quan Barry
Lee Ann Roripaugh
Mary Biddinger

Jennifer Jean said...

I just read Mary Biddenger's Saint Monica and was blown away so I second her nomination ;) Also reading/enjoying an earlier book by Sarah Gambito--Matadora.

I purchase books by women all the time but they are usually by more "established" women writers. I hate it that the buzz factor affects me! But I'm thinking now that it does. So yeah, for me it might have to be a conscious effort to move from great poem in journal by newish female poet to that poet's new book...

Sandy Longhorn said...

Shoot, I forgot Traci Brimhall!

Maureen said...

I've been making a point of buying the collections of poets who are women.

Some to add to your list:

Jehanne Dubrow
Susan Rich
Karen Kovacik
LL Barkat
Maureen Thorson

Jeannine said...

More excellent women writers on the rise, besides the ones previously mentioned here (I heartily agree with Sandy's list!)
Kristy Bowen
Rebecca Loudon
Annette Spaulding-Convy (her first book is coming out next spring - amazing work!)
Kathleen Flenniken (her upcoming book is a doozy - all about Hanford)
Karyna McGlynn
and I've just fallen in love with the work of a novelist whose work is just like poetry: Helen Phillips And Yet They were Happy

January said...

I'm just amazed at all the women poets I haven't heard about. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll post a comprehensive list soon.

Bernadette Geyer said...

So many good ones already listed. I'd add:

Martha Silano
Cynthia Marie Hoffman

Not sure how you define "up and coming"... one book? Two?

Sally Rosen Kindred said...

Lots of great poets already mentioned....I'd put in Rhett Iseman Trull as a poet to watch. Her first book, The Real Warnings, hit it out of the park.

Marie-Elizabeth said...

So glad you mentioned Traci Brimhall, Sandy! Also high high high on my list. Her first book, Rookery, was fantastic and she just won the Barnard Prize for her second book, Our Lady of the Ruins, due out spring 2012!

Wendy Wisner said...

Sarah Vap and Rachel Zucker are two of my current faves.

January said...

And I must add Camille Dungy to the list.

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