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12 Women Poets to Read -Inspired by World Poetry Day

March 21 was World Poetry Day, and as we work our way towards the end of National Women’s History Month and the beginning of National Poetry Month. So this post is inspired by all these together featuring (just some of the) women poets that are a joy, an inspiration, a revelation, a strength, and so much more to read.

Note that this is .just. a. list.: There is no easy way to include a top ten or my favorite five or any such lists when I want to talk about books or authors or writers or poets. So I decided to go about this list by including 12 women poets very randomly. A few from recent reads (I might have read them before as well), a few from my childhood reads, and a few that I have read just one or two poems of and plan to read more by them soon.

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Elizabeth Acevedo

I read her novel-in-verse – ‘The Poet X‘ recently and was blown away by the power of words that shine through in her writing. I simply had to write a poetic ode to her writing 🙂 Her next book is out in May this year and I am looking forward to it.

“My brother was born a soft whistle:
quiet, barely stirring the air, a gentle sound.
But I was born all the hurricane he needed 
to lift – and drop- those that hurt him to the ground.”
― Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(March 6, 1806 – June 29, 1861) I am not sure if I read any of her poems while in school, but she was one of the poets I read as a child. She definitely added a few reasons to the question I might ask Poetry – ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’

You’re something between a dream and a miracle.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browing

Eloise Greenfield

(Born: May 17, 1929 – ) I read Eloise Greenfield here and there over the years, but her poems in a recent collection really stuck a chord in me. The topics and her style of writing in just two of her poems ensure I am looking to read more Greenfield soon. Her rhythm and rhyme make you want to sing in tune, in time!

It takes more than a wish
to catch a fish
you take the hook
you add the bait
you concentrate
and then you wait
you wait you wait

– From ‘To Catch a Fish’ by Eloise Greenfield

Emily Dickinson

(December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) A must read poet. She was chosen as the premier poet for the Poetry for Kids series and reading the selection of poems in that book made me understand why!

What is not to love about a poet who says

‘‘There is no frigate like a book/ To take us lands away,/ Nor any coursers like a page/ Of prancing poetry.’

Florence Parry Heide

(February 27, 1919 – October 23, 2011) A children’s writer who loved everything about writing for children. I discovered her in the book titled ‘Imagine That! Poems of Never-Was‘ – a collection of poems selected by Jack Prelutsky. Monstrously fun reads!

Maya Angelou

(April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) Inspiration, hope, courage, power – her words instill these feelings and more as you read them. Hope humanity hears and heeds the truth in these words of hers from the poem ‘Human Family’

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

From Maya Angelou’s ‘Human Family’

Nikki Grimes

(Born: October 20, 1950) Another recent discovery. I found one of her books quite by accident and that discovery was oh so timely…Read my review of her book ‘One Last Wordhere.

“Stories are breadcrumbs.
Just follow the trail of books
and you will find me
lost among the galaxies
of scorched stars and ships to Mars.
― Nikki Grimes, Garvey’s Choice

Rupi Kaur

(Born: October 4, 1992 ) Rupi Kaur first rose to fame on Instagram – not surprising at all when you see the sheer brilliance in both her words and her art. Minimalistic yet powerful! Her book ‘Milk and Honey‘ is in the Most Sold lists on Amazon.

“the right one does not/stand in your way/they make space for you/to step forward”

Sandra Cisneros

(Born: December 20, 1954) My kids introduced me to Sandra Cisneros through her book ‘The House on Mango Street’. While I have to yet read the book, I did read some of her poems and loved them; and love that my kids enjoy her reading too!

Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and
murmuring like a mouth.
You were the shadows of a cloud cross-
ing over a field of tulips.

From Sandra Cisneros’ Cloud

Sarojini Naidu

(February 13, 1879 – March 2, 1949) Known as ‘The Nightingale of India’, she wore many hats. An Indian independence activist, the President of the Indian National Congress, the Governor of the United Provinces on India’s independence, and of course a talented writer and poet: in short – an inspiration! You can read one of her beautiful poems ‘In The Bazaars of Hyderabadhere.

Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair…
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.

From Naidu’s ‘The Bangle Sellers’

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

(August 16, 1904 – February 15, 1948) Lines from one of her poems is still fresh in my memory. Granted, we had to memorize (thankfully just a part of it) it in school; but among the many we did, this is one of the few that has survived the years to stay there 🙂 The poem – Jhansi Ki Rani (a Hindi poem – you can find it in the link with its English translation).

Toru Dutt

(March 4, 1856 – August 31, 1877) A recent discovery from a bygone era – I found her poetry and her as I was reading about female poets around the world. She was truly a force by herself and if she had lived longer than she did, one never knows how much more she might have accomplished. What I have read of her poems so far fascinate, and I am going to look for more to read.

‘Love came to Flora asking for a flower’

And Then There Are More:

So many more women poets that I can include but maybe for a more exhaustive, longer post someday in the future 🙂

Question for you, dear reader:

So, are any of your favorite poets on this list? Who would you include in a list like this? Let me know…

#WorldPoetryDay Women Poets to Read

35 thoughts on “12 Women Poets to Read -Inspired by World Poetry Day

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing these amazing women poets. I was familiar with some of them and they have published amazing writing. I can only imagine what the other women have also published.

    Kayla | Mommy Blogger | My Motherhood Made Easy

  2. I saw one of Maya Angelou’s poems from a friend who does poetry and considers her a role model. I must say that her lines are just so deep.

  3. Elizabeth Barrett Browning has been one of my favorites since high school when I first heard the words of her poem ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’ spoken in a tv ad. That was before google and I had to go to a library to find out who the poet was and to find more of her writing.

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