Women’s Self-Definition through Poetry

Author: Olivia Samimy
Major: Literary Studies
Approved: Spring 2019
Status: Completed

When the first American woman published a book of poetry, it included a note in the beginning that assured readers that the author had not neglected her womanly duties while working on the book. Still, the book was controversial simply because it had a female author, and writing was not an activity that’s appropriate for women. It is a consistent theme throughout history that women are discouraged from writing. Then, when a woman does overcome this barrier to begin writing, her work is devalued. This is especially true for women who chose to write about their own lives and experiences. This project will follow female poets from different times and cultures who broke down barriers and wrote poetry about the female experience. The study of the female poets will be done in the first semester, beginning in the 1600s and ending with contemporary poets. I have selected five poets to focus on. I will analyze their poetry and do research on the reception of their poetry. At the end of this project, the hope is to have a clear view of what it means to be a poet writing about the female experience, as well the similarities and differences between all the selected writers. For the second semester, I will be writing a collection of my own poetry on the subjects which I have discovered in other women’s work throughout history. Through this project, I hope to gain insight on the criticism female writers face, as well as develop my own writing skills.