You Don’t Know Mary – Why Read Women Poets

Last year’s Lit Fest brought a great salon, Scent of a Woman’s Ink. Lighthouse instructors Nick Arvin, Amanda Rea and Jenny Shank with Missouri Review editor Michael Nye responded to the question of gender bias in publishing, a situation covered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, co-founded in 2009 by poets Erin Belieu and Cate Marvin.

There have been a number of responses to VIDA over the years, including bloggers who declared 2014 the year of reading women.

I'm a woman. I'm a poet. I'm not one of them.

Why, then, am I teaching a class called American Women Poets: More than the Usual Suspects? Because we need more than the usual suspects.

Lit Fest is a time of celebration and community and we know, as writers, that one way to connect is by the writers we read. I've chosen to listen in to active, alive and vital writers and so want to explore new writers coming on to the scene and those who have paved the way.

We will be reading nine American women  poets from presses such as Wave Books, Four Way Books, University of Pittsburgh Press, Milkweed Editions, Sarabande, Alice James and Copper Canyon Press.

Looking at a number of the presses, there's still a lot of ground to cover, still a lot of white males front and center. I'm reading them, too. But let's see who else is in the room. There are approaches to subject, craft and the making of the book to explore. Looking beyond the usual subjects can take you there.