March is Women’s History Month, a time for us to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of extraordinary, influential women. In particular, we remember the women poets who have helped shape American poetry—innovative poets including Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, and kari edwards. Here we’ve curated a collection of poems, videos, audio, essays, books, lesson plans, and ephemera in tribute to these and other women poets writing today.
“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history …
"Batter My Heart, Transgender’d God" by Meg Day
Batter my heart, transgender’d god, for yours...
"Pain Scale" by Catherine Barnett
Floating above the gynecologist's hands...
“A water woman has no body” by Lisa Ciccarello
Emptiness is a blessing …
"Bear Witness" by Tiana Clark
Before I knew...
"Remember the Boys" by Rachel McKibbens
chucking rocks at the wasps’ nest,...
“poem in praise of menstruation” by Lucille Clifton
if there is a river …
“Equivalents” by Mónica de la Torre
My child is my mother ...
“[we fight back to control the outside]” by kari edwards
again, playing with fire ...
“Bring Back Our Girls” by Marwa Helal
It bejins in Berlin …
“Landscape” by Robin Coste Lewis
Pleasure is black …
“Fragment of a Bride” by Mary Jo Bang
Relative to status and state, one often finds the strategic …
“How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón
I like the lady horses best …
“A Pain That Is Not Private” by Lara Mimosa Montes
There is a time and place in the world for abstraction …
“Suddenly” by Sharon Olds
And suddenly, it’s today, it’s this morning …
“Exclusively on Venus” by Trace Peterson
Roses are red / violets are transsexual ...
“Girl Saints” by Emily Skaja
O LORD, when the Angel said Listen …
“Beauty” by Ariana Reines
These poisoned sensations have to be …
“Ode to My Hair” by Aria Aber
Exotic, “omg so thick,” a rug, so to speak—…
“Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich
First having read the book of myths …
“Ballad” by Sonia Sanchez
forgive me if i laugh …
“Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah” by Patricia Smith
My mother scraped the name Patricia Ann from the ruins …
"A Man's World" by Tracy K. Smith
He will surely take it out when you're alone...
“Urning” by Layli Long Soldier
*bring us to dark knots the black …
“I'm Over the Moon” by Brenda Shaughnessy
I don't like what the moon is supposed to do …
“[the girls speak to each other via the common tongue]: Feather or a Rock” by Ellen Welcker
which do you love more …
“After Baby After Baby” by Rachel Zucker
When we made love you had …
“We have no choice in the bodies that hold us” by Holly Amos
“WWE” by Fatimah Asghar
“From an Italian Postcard Factory” by Margaret Atwood
“For the Sake of Retrieval” by Linda Bierds
“The Dragonfly” by Louise Bogan
“Quarantine” by Franny Choi
“homage to my hips” by Lucille Clifton
“Weathering Out” by Rita Dove
“Moon for Our Daughters” by Annie Finch
“For the Stranger” by Carolyn Forché
“Given to Rust” by Vievee Francis
“Witchgrass” by Louise Glück
“The Girl I Call Alma” by Linda Gregg
“Cleis” by Marilyn Hacker
“The Map” by Marie Howe
“A Woman’s Delusion” by Susan Howe
“We Named You Mercy” by Amanda Johnston
“Poem about My Rights” by June Jordan
“According to the Gospel of Yes” by Dana Levin
“Landscape with Clinic and Oracle” by Lynn Melnick
“Present Tense” by Harryette Mullen
“Ghosts” by Kiki Petrosino
“Millay’s Hair” by Ann Townsend
“Radial Scent” by Sharon Wang
“The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain …
“Helen” by H. D.
All Greece hates …
“Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath
I have done it again…
“In the Waiting Room” by Elizabeth Bishop
In Worchester, Massachusetts …
"To My Ward-Sister" by Vera Brittain
Through the night-watches of our House of Sighs...
“If thou must love me … (Sonnet 14)” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
If thou must love me, let it be for nought …
“The Sun-Dial” by Adelaide Crapsey
Every day …
“Her Kind” by Anne Sexton
I have gone out, a possessed witch …
“You Foolish Men” by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
You foolish men who lay …
“Tender Buttons [A Little Called Pauline” by Gertrude Stein
A little called anything shows shudders …
“The Soul selects her own Society (303)” by Emily Dickinson
The Soul selects her own Society —
“I Sit and Sew” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson
I sit and sew—a useless task it seems …
“Poppies on the Wheat” by Helen Hunt Jackson
Along Ancona’s hills the shimmering heat …
“Venus of the Louvre” by Emma Lazarus
Down the long hall she glistens like a star …
“Alms” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
My heart is what it was before …
“Life” by Henrietta Cordelia Ray
Life! Ay, what is it? E’en a moment spun …
“Old Houses” by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Old loveliness, set in the country wind …
“Lady Montrevor” by Christina Rossetti
I do not look for love that is a dream …
“[Like the very gods]” by Sappho
Like the very gods in my sight is he who …
“Interlude” by Edith Sitwell
Amid this hot green glowing gloom …
“The Answer” by Sara Teasdale
When I go back to earth …
“Life” by Edith Wharton
Life, like a marble block, is given to all …
“On Virtue” by Phillis Wheatley
O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive …
“The Women's Litany” by Margaret Widdemer
Let us in through the guarded gate...
“Beauty” by Elinor Wylie
Say not of Beauty she is good …
Going for Motherlode: On Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born by Miranda Field
Field discusses Adrienne Rich’s manifesto, along with feminism and the notion of “women’s poetry.”
Hacker considers these three poets in the context of the extreme social and political changes that were occurring in the world during the first century of world wars, and how they chose to respond to those changes in their own work.
Ford peeks into the mind of Elizabeth Bishop as her obsessions—maps, moons, animals, oil, gasoline, colors—appear again and again in her poems.
Shot Through with Brightness: The Poems of H. D. by Marie Ponsot
“Badly anthologized for decades as Ezra Pound’s Imagiste acolyte, she is best known by only her earliest poems,” Ponsot writes of H. D., and seeks to provide a more wholesome look at the work of H. D. throughout her literary career.
Impossible Poetry? On Gertrude Stein by Anne Waldman
Waldman takes a look at Gertrude Stein’s serial poem Stanzas in Meditation, particularly “Stanza XVI,” which Waldman dubs “a seemingly impossible text,” a “heroic foray into uncharted poetic territory” and a “wild experiment begging patience.”
Marilyn Hacker discusses the personal, literary, and feminist importance of Adrienne Rich’s “Snapshots of a Daughter-in Law.”
Double-Bind: Three Women of the Harlem Renaissance by Anthony Walton
Walton discusses Jessie Redmon Fauset, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Georgia Douglas Johnson, and the challenges they faced as black, female poets.
Women of the New Gen: Refashioning Poetry by Diann Blakely
Diann Blakely discusses “The New Gen” and asks: “How are the New Gen poets different, and how are they like their stateside cousins?"
No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Women Poets, edited by Florence Howe
Organized chronologically, the poems in this anthology span seventy-five years and trace a concise history of women’s poetry and women’s lives in twentieth century America.
The Poetry of Arab Women, edited by Nathalie Handal
This anthology showcases the work of over eighty accomplished and emerging Arab women poets, including Etel Adnan, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sabah al-Kharrat Zwein.
Not for Mothers Only: Contemporary Poems on Child-Getting & Child-Rearing, edited by Catherine Wagner and Rebecca Wolff
The anthology includes nearly eighty poets writing on topics such as adoption, parenting guide books, and single parenthood, in poems that address the politics, difficulties, and satisfactions of mothering.
Selected Poems by Marianne Moore
Selected Poems includes many of Moore’s best-loved poems, including “The Jerboa," “No Swan So Fine,” “The Steeple-Jack,” and “To a Snail.”
Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein
Published in 1914, Tender Buttons is one of the great Modern experiments in verse.
Collected Sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Collected Sonnets, published in 1941 and compiling work from over twenty-three years and ten books, is a testament to her twinned obsessions.
The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Bean Eaters explores African American life through subjects like home, family, war, racism, and poverty, drawing heavily on Chicago’s south-side neighborhood of Bronzeville.
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
In 1960, her complete work appeared for the first time in one complete edition, with all 1,775 poems restored to the original, unaltered versions that Dickinson had intended.
Live or Die, Anne Sexton
Her most celebrated collection, Live or Die, is a fictionalized memoir of her recovery from mental illness. Each poem is dated as she moves from the opening lines of “And One for My Dame,” to the closing lines of “Live.”
Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich
In 1973, in the midst of the feminist and civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, and her own personal distress, Rich wrote Diving into the Wreck, a collection of exploratory and often angry poems, which garnered her the National Book Award in 1974.
Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop
The publication of her last book, Geography III, signaled Bishop’s widespread recognition among the general public.
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Part of the Confessional movement, Plath’s work in Ariel is intensely personal, addressing themes of motherhood, sexuality, marriage, and her experiences with depression.
Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, Robin Coste Lewis
“The black side of my family owned slaves”: That’s a key line in the first and the last of the poems in Lewis’s varied first collection, whose poems short and long braid her own family history into a wider trajectory from ancient Egypt to present-day Sri Lanka, New York City, and New Orleans.
Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews, edited by Elisabeth Frost and Cynthia Hogue
This anthology features fourteen full-length literary interviews with innovative female poets of the previous forty years, with introductions and a selection of their poems.
Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, edited by Alix Olson
This anthology, edited by internationally touring spoken word artist Alix Olson, collects the work of thirty-five female spoken word poets of different styles and backgrounds.
Fire on Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry, edited by Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy
This anthology features over seventy contemporary female poets of different ages (spanning the ages thirteen to ninety-one) and backgrounds, including Kim Addonizio, Nin Andrews, Jane Hirshfield, Rachel Zuker, and more.
Complicated Identities: On Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck”
Clarifying one’s identity is a process that goes on throughout life. “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich speaks to the complicated process of finding, and defining, oneself.
Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community, “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye
This lesson plan, part of the series “Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community," provides a sequence of activities that you can use with your students before, during, and after reading “Gate A-4.”
Poet-to-Poet: From “Manatee/Humanity” by Anne Waldman
This lesson plan presents a series of activities that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and encourages your students to engage in a multimedia experience with the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors.
On Marilyn Nelson’s My Seneca Village
This lesson plan is based on Marilyn Nelson’s poetry collection My Seneca Village (Namelos, 2015), in which she recreates Seneca Village, a multiracial neighborhood that existed in 19th-century Manhattan.