To the Women Poets
for my timeline sisters
There you are, your titles grand and full:
First poet ever, best in the Americas.
Your bold achievement showed the way it was,
But hidden under gender-lighted bushel.
And here’s another one, another—mother,
Nun, daughter, sister, friend, and wife.
Somehow, you, too, were poet in your life,
Your fame tamped down. Yet work will weather
Centuries to find a place, to make things equal,
To find where things went right, and find the sequel.
Rather than a few, it’s like an avalanche;
The family tree of sisters, and each branch.
To call them out is to find out their names,
And, with achievement, answer history’s claims.
[Note: The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project’s goal is to include an essay on every women poet ever from all countries; at its inception, some men asked what would happen when there were no more women poets to include.]
From Doll (Main Street Rag Press 2014) and published with permission of the author.
Kim Bridgford is the director of Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference, and the editor of Mezzo Cammin, an online formalist journal by women. In 2010, she launched The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, a comprehensive database of women poets, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. The author of nine books of poetry, including the recent Human Interest, she is the recipient of grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the NEA, and the Ucross Foundation. With Russell Goings, she rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of The Children of Children Keep Coming, for which she wrote the introduction.
Poet’s Note [on the origins of her book of sonnets, Doll ]:
I was participating in a residency at Ucross with my collaborative partner, visual artist Jo Yarrington, completing a project called “The Falling Edge,” a three-book series on our travels to Iceland, Venezuela, and Bhutan. One day in my studio writing, I remembered my husband saying: “There’s an inflatable doll in that passenger’s seat.” From there, it wasn’t difficult to picture the inflatable doll in other everyday situations—watching movies, going to the office Christmas party, and even winning the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.