Kamala Das (1934 – 2009), the renowned Indian writer, wrote poetry and prose both in her mother tongue, Malayalam, and in English. Here, we’ll explore a sampling of poems by Kamala Das, who became known as a confessional poet.
Born Kamala Surayya, she was also known by her pen name, Madhavikutty, though her widest recognition was achieved as Kamala Das, her married name. She was known in her home state of Kerala for her short stories and autobiography, and in the rest of India, for her English poetry.
Her controversial autobiography, My Story, originally written in Malayalam, gained her much fame and notoriety. Later, it was translated into English. PoemHunter.org observes of her work: “Her open and honest treatment of female sexuality, free from any sense of guilt, infused her writing with power, but also marked her as an iconoclast in her generation.” Read More→
Elinor Wylie (1885 – 1928) was a popular American poet and novelist in the 1920s and 1930s. Also widely known for her tumultuous personal life, many of her works offered insight into the difficulties of marriage and the impossible expectations that come with womanhood.
Though Wylie is no longer widely read, she was a celebrated author in her lifetime, with a cult following in her pinnacle years. She was known for her passionate writing, fueled by ethereal descriptors, historical references, and feminist undertones. Read More→
“The Disappointment” by Aphra Behn, a poem first published in 1680, is arguably among the best known and enduring of her works. Considered scandalous in her lifetime, Behn (1640 – 1689), a playwright, poet, and novelist, is recognized as the first British woman to earn a living by her writing.
In this lengthy poem, the shepherd Lisander attempts to force himself on the maid Cloris. It’s implied that that two are in love, and that the encounter is not a random situation.
Cloris, however, is unwilling, and Lisander is unable to perform — experiencing “the Hell of Impotence.” She is able to escape, and yet, since the perspective is on the female sexual experience, we’re left to wonder which of the pair is the most disappointed. Read More→
This celebration of the indescribably brilliant and sublime poetry by ancient Greek poetess, Sappho (born around 620 BCE in Lesbos, Greece) was originally published in BookRiot. Contributed by Nancy Snyder; reprinted by permission. The poems by Sappho presented following the introduction were all translated from the Greek.
“Although only breath, words which I command are immortal,” wrote Sappho around 510 BC. And how glad we are that we have Sappho’s words all these centuries later.
Sappho’s lyric poetry, poetry meant to be accompanied by a lyre and sung, entices us to discover Eros and Aphrodite (the god and goddess of romantic love) and all the earthly delights that accompanies such natural pursuits. Read More→
“Mother and Poet” is a poem by esteemed British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861). Written in a confessional manner, it’s a mother’s lament for having lost two sons serving in war. Though this poem isn’t autobiographical, Elizabeth had endured the sudden death of a beloved brother, and perhaps this allowed her to effectively convey the trauma of losing loved ones.
Suffused with grief and guilt, the mother narrating the poem exalts the bravery of her soldier sons doing battle in Italy. At the same time, it conveys the mother’s pain of the personal loss.
“Mother and Poet” was one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s later poems, published in Last Poems (1862). If she wasn’t speaking of herself in this poem, to who might it have been referring? Read More→