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Abstract

This bibliography was developed through close readings of 20th and 21st century female poets, writing their bodies, sexuality, and power. The readings include an intersectional selection of women, representing a range of sexuality and race, exploring not just bodies, but also how the women's lives inform those things, including family and societal expectations. I read these works with the intention of examining craft, form, and use of literary device such as metaphor, diction, and imagery to discuss these topics. I used these lenses to focus on what each writer accomplished in exploring femaleness, as well as how the work was in conversation with other female poets of the time about sexuality and power. I used knowledge gained from the readings and specifically addressed how these poets' use of craft could be applied to strengthen my own writing. I kept the themes and craft I observed in mind while working on my own poetry, as I began to piece together a chapbook reflecting my own experiences of sexuality, bodies, and the power struggle that accompanies the expression of the two.

Organized alphabetically, this annotated bibliography is intended to provide a diverse, albeit limited, sample of readings that informed my writing throughout the creation of my chapbook: a collection by Kim Addonizio that represents both older and newer poetry in its span of over twenty years of her work; debut collections from Carolyn Creedon and Andrea Gibson; a chapbook by Warsan Shire, and a collection from performance poet Daphne Gottlieb that features poems that defy typical poetry structures. Two of the most prominent trends that I acknowledge in my annotations are the related to diction choice and tone used by these poets. Each poet chooses her words carefully to explore her own womanness in a specific way. Andrea Gibson, for example, chooses powerful, assertive language that feels, in some instances, combative in the creation of tone in her poems. This collection goes from angry to victorious, with both of these tones balanced well by powerful word choice. Similarly, Kim Addonizio chooses words that have been used to incite violence; however, she implodes the meanings of the words, reclaiming them for womankind.

Several trends that I acknowledge in my annotations are also related to content; the annotated poets often refer to other women, namely, the speaker of the poem’s mother. In the annotations, I explore this generational juxtaposing. For example, Carolyn Creedon references a mother figure in several of her poems. Andrea Gibson’s poetry reveals an angst toward a mother who does not recognize or accept the speaker’s choices regarding her sexuality or outward expression of her body. Similarly, the title of Warsan Shire’s chapbook, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, references the connection between mother and daughter. These generational references work as a representation of the changes that have led to modern discussions of sexuality and bodies, and the craft of these poets shows the freedom of women to explore and claim their sexuality through poetry growing brighter each day.

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