Earlier this year, the spoken word piece “Nasty Woman” blew us away. Performed by Ashley Judd at the Washington Women’s March, the poem – originally written by Tennessee teen Nina Donovan – filled us with fire, rhythm, rage, and tears. Just days after Trump was elected as President of the United States, the piece functioned as a succinct, rallying cry against racism, voting, women’s reproductive rights, and what it means to be an outspoken woman today.
Without a doubt, poetry and spoken word have been vital to activism. As forms of self-expression, they’ve always revealed uncomfortable truths, and it’s no wonder so many poetic works have been banned throughout history.
That’s why we’re celebrating National Poetry Month. We want to share with you some of our favourite writers, which we’re certain will inspire you to live your life in various stanzas, meters, lines, and rhymes.
Canadian poets to read
If you're feeling the need to turn your world into an intersectional literary salon (and who doesn’t?), we recco reading the works of the following Canadian poets.
Rupi Kaur: “Milk and Honey” was the first book of poetry we read for our book club, and we’re glad we did. This Toronto-based Punjabi poet powerfully writes about violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity.
Stevie Howell: An Irish-Canadian writer and current poetry editor at This Magazine.
Aisha Sasha John: A writer, artist, dancer and performer born in Montreal. Her new book “I have to live” came out last week.
Damian Rogers: The former poetry editor at The Walrus recently wrote about striving to maintain “gender parity” in the industry, mentioning that the cliché is true – men submit more than women, and are more likely to submit again after rejection.
Souvankham Thammavongsa: A poet born in a Thai refugee camp who wrote the wonderful book “Light”, among many other gems.
Vivek Shraya: A transgender musician and visual artist living in Toronto, who wrote a book of poetry titled “even this page is white.” (Loving the title!)
Brecken Hancock: An award-winning poet based in Ottawa.
On our Women & Weed podcast
On our latest podcast episode, we featured the piece “Blk Girl Art” by poet and singer Jamila Woods. The poem is a reinterpretation of the piece “Black Art” by Amiri Baraka. We found Jamila’s poem in Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop edited by Quraysh Ali Lansana, Nate Marshall and Kevin Coval.
We discovered the poets Fatimah Asghar, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Mahogany L. Browne, Krista Franklin, Kristiana Colón, Nadia Sulayman, Tarfia Faizullah, Angel Nafis among so many other amazing writers in this anthology. Pick it up from your local library or buy the book and support the artists!
We know, we’ve barely scratched the surface here, so let us know about your favourite feminist poets in the comments below.