Editor’s Note: This is the third collection in Boston Review’s series of poetry reading lists for National Poetry Month. You can read the others on belonging, empathy, and award-winning poets.
These poems reflect the great breadth, beauty, and pain of womanhood and challenge the narrowness of the word’s definition. They trace womanhood’s intersections with class and race, subverting social expectations of the female body and the institution of marriage. And, in doing so, they examine the way that intergenerational trauma imprints on the body and the mind.
In this reading list, alongside other innovative and powerful poems, are 2019 Boston Review Annual Poetry Prize Finalist Rosa Angelica Martinez’s “Paradise Is Burning,” which considers worship and female lineage, and 2019 Poetry Prize semi-finalist K. Avvirin Gray’s “Two Poems” which enliven the ever-present voices of Black abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth and Greek mythological figure Antigone.
Together, these works urge us to think about the range of women’s voices in each of our lives, and their resounding power.
Lost in the stillness of her stare, a dangerous watery horizon appears, and then she removes her mask.