I wanted to update with something new that I’ve read, so I picked something small: Halfway to Silence by May Sarton. It’s a collection of her poetry. This is the first book by her I’ve read, though she’s written many.
I have a funny relationship with poetry. I love it, in some ways: right now I’m in my second college poetry class, and I like going to the spoken word poetry events that happen regularly where I live, but I can get really bored by… I suppose more traditional poetry. I dislike wordiness, flowery language, and above all, describing scenery. Of course, that last one goes for novels, as well.
May Sarton’s poems seemed to lean towards those characteristics. That doesn’t mean that she’s a bad poet, not at all, she’s just not exactly my style. There were a couple I enjoyed, however, like “Love” and “Of Molluscs”. Although Sarton is a lesbian and I’m told she often writes about the lesbian experience, this collection didn’t really reflect that. In fact, I only found one poem that seemed to have any lesbian content, “The Lady of the Lake”, and I thought I’d share the first part of it to show Sarton’s style:
Somewhere at the bottom of the lake she is
Entangled among weeds, her deep self drowned.
I cannot be there with her. I know she is bound
To a dead man. Her wide open eyes are his.
Only a part of her surfaces in my arms
When I can lift her up and float her there
If you are looking for lesbian poetry, my favorite lesbian poet is the spoken word poet Alix Olson. You can read some of her poetry at her website or listen to her on Youtube.
For more lesbian poetry you can look forward to seeing reviewed, I own The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse by Stephen Coote, Poems Between Women by Emma Donoghue (which I am very much looking forward to), The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich, and Songs of Sappho by the original Lesbian.
I also have access to some through the library: The Collected Poem of Audre Lorde and The Complete Poems of Sappho (I like to read different translations, though I recommend If Not, Winter).
Who are some of your favorite lesbian poets?
Elizabeth Bishop, for sure!
Ooh, thanks for the recommendation, I hadn’t heard of her before! My library has a couple of her works, so I’ll add her to the list!
I love Dorothy Allison’s poetry. Also, Susan Stinson, who I wrote about in the guest post, has some lovely poetry as well, though it can be hard to access (the book was self-published).
Oh, I have Dorothy Allison’s book Trash, but I haven’t read it yet. I didn’t know she wrote poetry!
The Women Who Hate me is a great book of poetry by Allison.
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