Sunday, February 20, 2011

Faces of women poets

Phillis Wheatley

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
Sappho
Sappho
Gwendolyn Brooks
Christina Rossetti


Faces of women poets are on my mind. The artist Jane Fordham revisits women's faces constantly. She goes back to icons, medieval madonnas and the vibrant faces of ancient Egypt looking straight at you from the past. Her work captures the essence of that direct, outward stare.

When Ros Barber sent me a preview of the website we're devising for women poets currently writing in the UK, I felt a similar impact.

There is no comprehensive list of women poets currently writing in the UK. There are lists based on quality judgements and prizes - all very limited. There are lists of women that others have decided to showcase in anthologies. But nothing based on simple facts: living/writing in the UK, alive, female.

So we began collecting names. Firstly from personal knowledge and our bookshelves, then from an email to people we knew, hoping it would become viral. It has. Most responses have been delighted, generous and helpful.

So we are building our wall of women's faces and those direct gazes assertive, engaged, will transmit the poetry being written today.