It's a Woman's World, a Century of Women's Voices in Poetry

Neil Philip, Editor, Alissa Heyman, Editor Dutton Books $17.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-525-46328-3
This anthology of 20th-century women's poems contains an impressive sampling from poets of diverse cultures. However, Philip's (Singing America) organizing principle, how poetry of this era ""shows an attitude to love and marriage that would have been unthinkable in previous generations,"" necessarily results in a selection that is not representative. The poems here are heavily weighted toward pessimism and discontent, with little humor or joy. Eavan Boland's ""It's a Woman's World,"" citing women's staying power; Judith Rodriguez's ""Eskimo Occasion,"" which celebrates the joy of a new day; and May Sarton's ""On a Winter Night,"" in which a woman contemplates her own burning desire to live and grow as she stares into a hearth fire, are the exceptions. More common are sentiments such as those expressed in Elizabeth Riddell's bleak ""News of a Baby,"" which opens the section on childhood. After welcoming the baby ""to the world of swords/ and deadlier words"" and promising other horrors, the poet concludes, ""Welcome, baby, no dread thing will be omitted./ We are your eager hosts."" Marvelous black-and-white photographs of intriguing women from various countries preface each section, but they sometimes belie the contents of the poems to follow. The section on falling in love and getting married, for instance, features a cheery photograph of an embracing couple to usher in such poems as Dorothy Parker's sardonic ""Chant for Dark Hours"": ""(All your life you wait around for some damn man!)."" A narrow view of 20th-century women's voices. Ages 11-up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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