Dear Ms. Anne Waldman,
I hope you are well. I am writing to you as a response to the Dear Poets project. Your reading of your poem “Fast Speaking Woman” really helped emphasize the energy of the poem and how powerful the poem is.
All of the descriptions of the woman came to light in the reading and really emphasized the power behind the words in your poem. Your poem was really powerful to me and as a young woman today, this poem helped me realize that among all of the stress of school, I can still rise, and be powerful.
What made you use the word “woman” other than any other word that describes a person? To me, it is interesting that you chose to empower the woman in the poem, and give her all of the strength of nature and everything around her. Also, what made you choose to compare the woman to nature, and not to another thing?
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter!
April 27, 2016
Thank for your responsive letter. Yes, you can certainly can rise and be powerful! Although I am much older than you are, young women writers faced some discrimination when I was coming of age as a poet. Many magazines and publishing houses were much more male oriented. We have seen such changes in our world in terms of how we even perceive gender at this point. And I find more empathy and compassion for all aspects of the human condition.
I was very inspired by the life of the Mazatec Indian poet Maria Sabina, and my poem is directly influenced by her example and her chants. Sabina, growing up very poor in Mexico, never went to school, she was barefoot her whole life and yet is one of the major Oral poets, I think, of the 20th century. I owe a lot to her shamanism.
I think the notion of “woman” or “feminine energy” is traditionally close to Nature and to the idea of nourishment and creating atmosphere. One finds this in many cultures. And one can often find “feminine energy” free from gender. Many of my male friends (who identify as “male”) have aspects of feminine energy!
I hope you continue to read and enjoy poetry. I have always found reading poetry (& writing it too!) to be a way to deepening appreciation and understanding of our complex world.