I am delighted to host something a little different on my blog today: a brilliant new poetry anthology celebrating female poets across the ages. This new collection from anthologist Ana Sampson, features 150 stunning poems from fierce and fabulous women worldwide.
There is such a wonderfully diverse range of poets featured: suffragettes, aristocrats, school girls. Most of whom would not have had their voices heard at the time they were writing unless they wrote under a pseudonym.
‘She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women’ contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets. Immerse yourself in poems from Maya Angelou, Nikita Gill, Wendy Cope, Ysra Daley-Ward, Emily Bronte, Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Dunmore, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti, Margaret Atwood and Dorothy Parker, amongst many others!
I loved the way the poems were organised according to theme: growing up, friendship, nature, freedom, society, courage. When reading, I uncovered several poems which made me chuckle, some which made me think of my children and some which made me ponder the future.
I can imagine dipping in and out of this thought-provoking collection when looking for inspiration or in need of some quiet reflection. It would definitely make an excellent gift for poetry lovers or anyone with an interest in the evolution of women’s rights.
I was lucky enough to ask Ana who her favourite heroines when she was growing up, and here’s her response:
I really struggled with this question! When I was growing up in the 1980s there was no Hermione Grainger and no Lyra. I’m even (whisper it) a bit too old to have read Matilda as a child. I thought about my favourite books and a lot of the heroines’ main virtue was that they suffered with fortitude, and were sweet and kind (Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, for example.) Princess Leia was and is a great fierce heroine – but I didn’t see Star Wars until I was sixteen. The Never Ending Story had a male hero, and so did most of the films I remember loving as a child: Flight of the Navigator, E.T., Batteries not Included, Back to the Future, Gremlins, the Goonies…
However, Alice in Wonderland always appealed – she keeps a cool head, even when those around her are literally losing theirs – and of course there was Jo in Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables. My favourite fictional heroine as a child was definitely Nancy Drew, who solved mysteries with brains and bravery. From the world of television, it had to be Maid Marian from Maid Marian and her Merry Men. Running from the late 80s until 1994, it presented a Marian who was the undisputed boss of the Merry Men – brave, cool, clever and funny. I was also obsessed with Jayne Fisher (see attached image). She wrote the Garden Gang series of books published by Ladybird Books between the ages of nine and twelve. I recently rediscovered my collection and have been reading them with my daughters – and I remember how jealously I admired her, and how much I longed to be an author too. I’d love to know what she’s doing now and I’d love to ask her about the experience of writing The Garden Gang books!
The fact that I found it difficult to name lots of heroines from my childhood made me think a lot about the female role models – or lack of them – I grew up with. A lot of children’s classics had quite Victorian views about girls being good and kind and suffering nobly and, although kindness is crucial, a lot of the messages aren’t at all what I would like my daughters to absorb. I’m heartened by the fact that this is being addressed now, and that there are lots of books, films and television programmes with brilliant heroines, as well as efforts being made to celebrate women’s achievements in all fields. It’s been a long time coming! I hope in compiling She Is Fierce, I’ve brought a few more female role models out of obscurity.
A stunning anthology of inspirational poems which would make a fantastic addition to any bookshelf.
*Many thanks to Macmillan and Amber Ivatt for inviting me to participate in this blog tour*
Click on the image above to purchase.