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The female poets that (perhaps) you don't know

For World Poetry Day, let's explore some contemporary voices

The female poets that (perhaps) you don't know For World Poetry Day, let's explore some contemporary voices

My contemporary literature professor always used to say that poetry is easier to make than to read. Who hasn't dabbled in writing a few verses, whether serious or humorous, even at a young age? Yet, very few people actually read poetry. Perhaps because it seems complex, because maybe our school experience taught us to stay away from it, because we're afraid of not fully understanding it. Following this principle, on World Poetry Day today, we decided to give space to some contemporary female poets, especially those in English, all worth reading. Who knows, maybe between the arrival of spring and the beginning of the Aries astrological season, we will find the time to exercise our poetry reading muscle. One step at a time, one layer at a time.

World Poetry Day

First, let's try to understand the origins and motivations of this celebration. World Poetry Day has been observed since 1999 and was established by UNESCO during the General Conference in Paris, with the aim "to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to help endangered languages be heard". The definition of poetry has evolved over the years. No longer just words. According to Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, in fact: "Arranged in words, colored with images, struck with the right meter, the power of poetry has no match. As an intimate form of expression that opens doors to others, poetry enriches the dialogue that catalyses all human progress, and is more necessary than ever in turbulent times." And so, let's enter the world of poetry.

Amanda Gorman

With 3.7 million followers on Instagram, Amanda Gorman is one of the most influential young poets in recent years. Rising to fame with her spoken performance of The Hill We Climb at Joe Biden's presidential inauguration in January 2021, she has been unstoppable since then. Her style is socially impactful, addressing political and environmental crises, with a focus on human beings, their duties, and their inherently solidarity-driven nature. An example? An excerpt from An Ode We Owe, which says: "We chime it, for the climate/ For our communities./ We shall respect and protect/ Every part of this planet/ Hand it to every heart on this earth/ Until no one’s worth is rendered/ By the race, gender, class, or identity/ They were born. This morn let it be sworn/ That we are one one human kin/ Grounded not just by the griefs/ We bear, but by the good we begin".

Aranya Johar

Aranya Johar is an Indian poet. Her compositions are long and structured, resembling prose. Her rhythm is slow, seeking and finding all that is special in everyday life and illuminating it in a new light. Her favorite themes include what it means to be a non-white woman, the relationship with society and gender, with beauty standards. Her style is that of slam poetry, blending recitation and words for an even stronger impact.

Elisabetta Panico

Elisabetta Panico, under the stage name Beibi Laplá, is a visual poet who skillfully mixes words and images, transporting us into a new poetic mode, made of collages and materiality. From Naples, she has written a book titled Diavolo di Sabbia, which gathers aphorisms, phrases, notes, and visual stimuli, creating together a dreamlike world, opening the doors to fantastic universes to get lost in. All to be admired.

Yrsa Daley-Ward

Yrsa Daley-Ward was one of the first contemporary poets to use the power of social media to circulate her works. English, born to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father. Her most famous poem is titled Mental Health, included in her first collection (Bone), and it's an anthem to life and the things we must do to feel better. Not only mental health: among her favorite themes are also identity, race and racism, femininity. An excerpt: "When the blood in your body is/ weary to flow/ when your bones are heavy though/ hollow/ if you have made it past thirty/ celebrate/ and if you haven’t yet/ rejoice. Know that there is a time/ coming in your life when dirt settles/ and the patterns form a picture".

Patrizia Valduga

Patrizia Valduga doesn't have a presence on social media, but she remains one of the most iconic living contemporary poets in Italy. Often labeled as an erotic poet, her work transcends thematic boundaries to delve into female sexuality with frankness and without shame, exploring its every nook and cranny, even the most scandalous. Born in 1953, she made her debut in 1982 with Medicamenta. Her latest collection is titled Belluno - Andantino e grande fuga and was published in 2019. In between, there's been a fruitful and incredible career, all to be discovered without preconceptions.

Jacqueline Whitney

Writer and influencer, Jacqueline Whitney applies to her poetry the same minimal style we see on her profile, dominated by tones of white, gray, and beige. Hers is an ethereal work that focuses on positive feelings, creation, and hope, but is no less profound for it. Her poetry aims to transcend the concept of value, teaching all humans that living has meaning, despite everything.