As summer lazily drags on, you may find yourself hankering for one last gasp of adventure. The heat might be getting to you. If so, we’ve got just the ticket. Check out your local (air conditioned) library or favourite independent bookstore for something to read. If you’re not in the mood to commit to a novel, why not try some poetry? Right now, we love super rad female poets. Though these ladies may not have the same name recognition as Plath, Angelou and Dickinson, here are five female poets that are on our radar.
1. Diane DiPrima: When we think of the Beat Generation, we automatically think of the exploits of William S. Burroughes, Allen Ginsberg and most notably, Jack Kerouac. However, there were tons of amazing women contributing their own ideas to the scene. One of these hip ladies was Diane DiPrima. She founded two publishing houses that dealt extensively with avant-garde poetry, corresponded with Ezra Pound at 19, and past the initial Beat bubble, has continued to work as an activist and writer.
2. Anne Carson: She’s one of the biggest names in contemporary poetry, and guess what? She’s Canadian. Recipient of the T.S Eliot prize in 2001 for “The Beauty of the Husband,” Carson’s poetry captures a certain iron fragility. Sentimental, wry and always seductive, this world-renowned classicist deftly interweaves her extensive knowledge of philosophy and literature into starkly personal observations about love and desire.
3. Dionne Brand: Named Toronto’s poet laureate for 2009, and a graduate of UofT, Dionne Brand’s poetry deals with themes of race, gender and identity. She examines the experiences of exile, migration, homecoming and location, and how this is essential to understanding identity. Recently, she won the Griffin Poetry Prize for her work “Ossuaries”.
4. Anna Akhmatova: Censored by Stalin, and celebrated by her contemporaries, Anna Akhmatova’s distinct style conveys a measured emotionality. At once clipped and unrestrained, Akhmatova is a poet who is hard to pin down stylistically, but remains one of the most beloved poets of the Russian cannon. Her works, though rooted in her experiences, have an echo of the anxiety of living under a totalitarian regime.
5. Gwendolyn MacEwen: One of Canada’s finest poets, Gwendolyn MacEwen’s poetry slinks through the mind, like oil over top of water. At times a little too intimate, and willfully obscure (except for those, like herself, with an avid interest in the Ancients)—she’s the perfect way to lose yourself on a rainy day. Dropping out of school at eighteen to concentrate on writing, MacEwen published almost four-dozen books and has won numerous awards for her writing.
~ Natasha Hunt