Archives for posts with tag: women poets

My Choice
by Jonaki Ray

At four:
I feel that I am ugly.
Wild, curly hair—the sort that made rubber bands break
Flat nose and dark skin—in a country where Fair&Lovely is a best-selling cream
I refuse to look at mirrors, refuse to dress up
Clutch Naughty, my teddy bear, refuse to let it go.

At eight:
My brother has arrived
Parents, grandparents, relatives celebrate
I am ignored and wonder if I was adopted.
Why else would I be an outsider, all of a sudden?
I try to be good. Try to help by babysitting.
I never speak, unless questioned.

At 11:
I discover books.
I am Jo from Little Women
I will write and save my family
Or Katy from What Katy Did
I will be admired for my courage and calm.
But Dadu says, ‘You will get glasses and spoil your only good feature, and no one will marry you.’

At 15:
I am given a choice by Ma: ‘You can study and have a career. OR
Start learning to cook and be married “off” to a man of our choice and become a housewife.
In any case, you don’t have the looks to make someone fall in love with you.’
I ‘choose’: I plan for each annual exam as if it’s a war to be won.
I ‘choose’: To excel in poetry, music, dance, and learn Physics
Geography, Geometry, Chemistry, and Biology.
I ‘choose’: To be so good that no one will ever be able to hurt me again.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This is a photograph of me, aged four, and Naughty, my first and last teddy bear. At one time, we were inseparable.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As I write this, there is a controversy raging in India about a popular actress appearing in a woman empowerment video, stating her choices about wearing the clothes she wants, sleeping with whoever she wants, and marrying if she wants. But, for millions of ‘ordinary’ women in India, these choices are luxuries. Most women don’t get the chance to study or have a job, let alone choose about their life or sexual partners. As a child, I was not told that I am less than a boy in any way, explicitly. But, in myriad ways, I was told that I will have to work harder than a boy. That the fact that I am able to study and opt for a career is a luxury. In retrospect, my mother who never got that choice, probably pushed me to study and have a job so that I have the life she didn’t have. But, at 15, I felt worthless because of her words, and some of that hurt persists till today.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonaki Ray is a technical editor in India. Her work has been published and forthcoming in The Writers’ Journal, The Times of India, Down to Earth,, Pyrta Journal, The Four Quarters Magazine, and She is perpetually striving for a balance between the world of science, which she studied and works in, and the world of poetry, which she has come to love.


Poets Suzanne Lummis, Laurel Ann Bogen, and Linda Albertano (shown left to right in the photo above taken at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles) will perform on Friday, June 20, 2014, at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. There will be poetry slung. There will be dancing. There will be props and costumes! One night only!

WHAT: Nearly Fatal Women (Linda Albertano, Laurel Ann Bogen, and Suzanne Lummis).

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

TICKETS: $12 ($7 for seniors) at

For more about this performance poetry troupe, visit

Photo by Penelope Torribio. Visit the photographer at

umbrellas 1
by Jennifer K. Sweeney

In your sleep
the year advanced.
Perhaps in a Japanese rainstorm

33 umbrellas opened at precisely
the same moment—
a ballooning

then a click—
and you were allowed further.
Go with your blue apples

falling from the night-trees.
Go with your muddled

Carve impossible faces
in the pumpkin.
Scoop a net of seeds—

one for the trouble you’ve caused,
the rest for the trouble
you wish you caused.

The skeletons wear marigolds
for eyes.
They let you pass,

lantern-hearted, happy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of two poetry collections Salt Memory (Main Street Rag, 2006), available at, and How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009), available at Visit the author at

Photo by Patcharamai Vutipapornkul

by Phillis Levin

Under a cherry tree
I found a robin’s egg,
broken, but not shattered.

I had been thinking of you,
and was kneeling in the grass
among fallen blossoms

when I saw it: a blue scrap,
a delicate toy, as light
as confetti

It didn’t seem real,
but nature will do such things
from time to time.

I looked inside:
it was glistening, hollow,
a perfect shell

except for the missing crown,
which made it possible
to look inside.

What had been there
is gone now
and lives in my heart

where, periodically,
it opens up its wings,
tearing me apart.

SOURCE: “End of April” appears in Phillis Levin’s collection The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), available at

ILLUSTRATION: “Opus No. 122″ by Kazue Shima


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phillis Levin is the author of four poetry collections, including May Day (Penguin, 2008), and editor of the Penguin Book of the Sonnet (Penguin, 2001). She teaches at Hofstra University.

Author photo by Sheila McKinnon

by Eleanor Farjeon

In the last letter that I had from France
You thanked me for the silver Easter egg
Which I had hidden in the box of apples
You like to munch beyond all other fruit.
You found the egg the Monday before Easter,
And said. ‘I will praise Easter Monday now –
It was such a lovely morning’. Then you spoke
Of the coming battle and said, ‘This is the eve.
‘Good-bye. And may I have a letter soon’.

That Easter Monday was a day for praise,
It was such a lovely morning. In our garden
We sowed our earliest seeds, and in the orchard
The apple-bud was ripe. It was the eve,
There are three letters that you will not get.

SOURCE: “Easter Monday” by Eleanor Farjeon appears in Scars Upon My Heart: Women’s Poetry and Verse of the First World War (Virago, 2006), available at

NOTE: Eleanor Farjeon wrote “Easter Monday” on April 9th 1917 in memory of her friend Edward Thomas, who died fighting as a soldier during the First World War.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eleanor Farjeon (1881–1965) was an English author of children’s stories and plays, poetry, biography, history, and satire. She won many literary awards and the Eleanor Farjeon Award for children’s literature is presented annually in her memory by the Children’s Book Circle, a society of publishers.

PEAR TREE (Excerpt)
by HIlda Doolittle

Oh white pear
your flower tufts,
thick on the branch,
bring summer and ripe fruits
in their purple hearts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961) attended Bryn Mawr, as a classmate of Marianne Moore, and later the University of Pennsylvania where she befriended Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. She travelled to Europe in 1911, and remained abroad for the rest of her life. Through Pound, she  became a leader of the Imagist movement. Some of her earliest poems gained recognition when published by Harriet Monroe’s  Poetry magazine.  American Poetry Review noted that ”…by the end of her career [Doolittle] became not only the most gifted woman poet of our century, but one of the most original poets…in our language.” (Learn more at

Painting: “Pear Blossom” by Patti Siehien, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find the painting at

by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

by Jean McKishnie Blewett

There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
Here’s to the Saint that blessed it!
And here’s to the billows wild and free
That for centuries have caressed it!

Here’s to the day when the men that roam
Send longing eyes o’er the water!
Here’s to the land that still spells home
To each loyal son and daughter!

Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween,
With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here’s to her shamrock warm and green,
And here’s to the hearts that love her!

ILLUSTRATION: “Ireland Watercolor Map” by Michael Tompsett. Prints available at


Dusty taste of pistachio
summons the desert,
after the bite
green like the Palo Verde.
Creamy avocado
so smooth on the tongue,
soft in the hand but
hard in the heart.
A sting of Chartreuse
in a sip of the tongue,
burning bite from a bottle.
Now, breathe eucalyptus
inhale mint grass pine
swallow apple olive
drink in green.
Electric, asparagus, yellow, blue
forest, bright, marine and pine
Harlequin, honeydew, India, lawn
camouflage, citrine, emerald, jade
Paris, army, avocado, pear
verdigris, chlorine, office, sky
hunter, Persian, pigment, teal
turquoise, Kelly, moss and sap
Eucalyptus, grass, viridian, green.

“Shades of Green” by Tere Sievers appears in the Silver Birch Press Green Anthology, a collection of Poetry and prose by 72 writers from the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Africa —  available at (Free Kindle version until 3/18/14!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tere Sievers, originally a Jersey girl, lives in Long Beach, California, and works as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  She began writing poetry at CSULB and Beyond Baroque back in the late 70s.  For the enjoyment of the children in her life, she has published a book of children’s poems, Blueberry Pancakes and Monkey Pajamas.  She received third place in the Your Daily Poem Apocalypse Poetry Contest.

by Lizette Woodworth Reese

It is too early for white boughs, too late
For snows. From out the hedge the wind lets fall
A few last flakes, ragged and delicate.
Down the stripped roads the maples start their small,
Soft, ’wildering fires. Stained are the meadow stalks
A rich and deepening red. The willow tree
Is woolly. In deserted garden-walks
The lean bush crouching hints old royalty,
Feels some June stir in the sharp air and knows
Soon ’twill leap up and show the world a rose.

The days go out with shouting; nights are loud;
Wild, warring shapes the wood lifts in the cold;
The moon’s a sword of keen, barbaric gold,
Plunged to the hilt into a pitch black cloud.

IMAGE: “Sunset in the forest in late winter” by


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856-1935) was born in Huntingdon (now Waverly), Maryland, to a Confederate soldier and his German wife. She attended Baltimore private schools and, upon graduating from high school, embarked on a nearly 50-year career as an English teacher in the Baltimore schools. Her first poetry collection, A Branch of May (1887), brought wide recognition. She published an additional eight volumes of poetry, two long narrative poems, two memoirs, and one autobiographical novel. In 1931 she was named poet laureate of Maryland, and was granted an honorary doctorate from Goucher College.