Friday, April 2, 2010

Ain't I a Woman! A Book of Women's Poetry from Around the World

[this beautiful book's cover image is from here]

[this version of the book's cover is from here]

Ain't I a Woman! A Book of Women's Poetry from Around the World (Hardcover)

~ Illona Linthwaite (Author) 

  • Publisher: Gramercy; 13th Ptg. edition (July 13, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517093650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517093658
  • Publisher: Lincolnwood, Ill. : Contemporary Books, 2000.
  • ISBN: 0809225344
  • House of Desire / Sherley Anne Williams
  • Warning / Jenny Joseph
  • My Country / Zindziswa Mandela
  • Mamzelle / Mary Wilson
  • If You Black Get Back / Cheryl Clarke
  • Growing Up / U A Fanthorpe
  • Witch / Jean Tepperman
  • Sun Witness / Nurunnessa Choudhury
  • Invitation to a Dance / Susan Wallbank
  • Richard Brought His Flute / Nancy Morejon
  • Lost, One Soul / Sandy McIntosh
  • Other Fabrics, Other Mores! / Anna Maria Lenngren
  • Nikki Rosa / Nikki Giovanni
  • Cartwheels / Mary Lonnberg Smith
  • Poem of Distant Childhood / Noemia da Sousa
  • Blue Specks / Nurunnessa Choudhury
  • Quatrains / Mahsati
  • I Hate Poetry / Julia Vinograd
  • I Said to Poetry / Alice Walker
  • New Notebook / Maria Banus
  • I Used to Think / Chirlane McCray
  • Ama Credo / Margaret Reckord
  • Mririda / Mririda N'ait Attik
  • Sho Nuff / Nilene O A Foxworth
  • African Beauty / Taiwo Olaleye-Oruene
  • Almost Love / Magaly Sanchez
  • To a Boy / Nancy Morejon
  • Desire / Dinah Livingstone
  • Every Day That I Love You / Teresita Fernandez
  • To the tune 'A Floating Cloud Crosses Enchanted Mountain' / Huang Ho
  • 'After he stripped off my clothes' / Villana
  • Thanks / Nina Cassian
  • Africa and the Caribbean / Jennifer Brown
  • He May Be a Photograph of Himself / Tina Reid
  • Return / Mary Dorcey
  • Song (October 1969) / Kath Fraser
  • On a Night of the Full Moon / Audre Lorde
  • Sea Change / Mary Dorcey
  • New Face / Alice Walker
  • 'From her grave' / Gillian E Hanscombe
  • Memorial I / Audre Lorde
  • For D S / Christine Craig
  • Disillusion / Maureen Burge
  • Do You Fancy Me? / Dinah Butler
  • Ever Notice How It Is with Women? / Margaret Randall
  • Meaningful Exchange / Marge Piercy
  • 'I see a man who is dull' / Anonymous
  • Dry Rock Number / Tina Reid
  • Some Men / Dazzly Anderson
  • Good Old Body / Christine Donald
  • Fat Blues / Charmaine Crowell
  • 'The thin women woo each other' / Christine Donald
  • Wha Fe Call I' / Valerie Bloom
  • Diet / Maureen Burge
  • Invitation / Grace Nichols
  • Whistle, Daughter, Whistle / Anonymous
  • Bride / Bella Akhmadulina
  • 'Lucky bridegroom' / Sappho
  • Poem for a Marriage / Christine Craig
  • Auld Robin Gray / Lady Anne Lindsay
  • Creation of the World / Eva Toth
  • Marriage / Anna Wickham
  • 'My husband is the same man' / Sila
  • Marriage / Elaine Feinstein
  • Nervous Prostration / Anna Wickham
  • 'A free woman At last free!' / Sumangala's Mother
  • 'I thought you were good' / Anonymous
  • They Went Home / Maya Angelou
  • 'Because we suspected' / Lady Ise
  • Story of a Hotel Room / Rosemary Tonks
  • For All Mary Magdalenes / Desanka Maksimovic
  • In Memory, 1978 / Judith Kazantzis
  • Death of a Dove / Nurunnessa Choudhury
  • Ballade / Christine de Pisan
  • Ballad / Gabriela Mistral
  • To the tune 'The Fall of a Little Wild Goose' / Huang Ho
  • Lady of Miracles / Nina Cassian
  • Selected Quatrains / Mahsati
  • What'll the Neighbours Say? / Sandra Kerr
  • With Child / Genevieve Taggard
  • Labour Pains / Yosano Akiko
  • Miracle / Maureen Hawkins
  • In My Name / Grace Nichols
  • Woman into Man / Susan Wallbank
  • My Baby Has No Name Yet / Kim Nam Jo
  • For a Child Born Dead / Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sleep Close to Me / Gabriela Mistral
  • At the National Gallery / Judith Kazantzis
  • Birthplace / Tahereh Saffarzadeh
  • Mountain Girl / Rafaela Chacon Nardi
  • Flower-Press / Penelope Shuttle
  • From Poem to Her Daughter / Mwana Kupona Msham
  • For My Daughter / Judith Kazantzis
  • Sent from the Capital to Her Elder Daughter / Otomo no Sakanoe
  • Daughter / Mary Dorcey
  • Grande Jetee / Mary Mackey
  • Mrs Johnson Objects / Clara Ann Thompson
  • Her Sister / Moira O'Neill
  • Mother and Child / Penelope Shuttle
  • Boy and the Dream / Anna Wickham
  • Sun Going Down upon Our Wrath / Denise Levertov
  • Mother /k Nagase Kiyoko
  • Distances / Katherine Gallagher
  • Mother / Nancy Morejon
  • Trying on for Size / Mary Dorcey
  • Dad / Elaine Feinstein
  • To My Father / Dinah Butler
  • Father / Jean Kipkin
  • Journey / Margaret Reckord
  • One Life / Dinah Butler
  • Cythera / Suniti Namjoshi
  • 'Immortal Aphrodite, on your patterned throne' / Sappho
  • Love Letter / Carole E Gregory
  • Lilith Re-Tells Esther's Story / Michelene Wandor
  • Vashti / Frances E W Harper
  • From Jezebel Her Progress / Gillian E Hanscombe
  • Look, Medusa! / Suniti Namjoshi
  • Remember Medusa? / Eunice de Souza
  • Eve Meets Medusa / Michelene Wandor
  • I See Cleopatra / Nurunnessa Choudhury
  • Cleopatra / Mary Mackey
  • Cleopatra / Anna Akhmatova
  • Chain / Christine Craig
  • Anti Apart Hate Art / Michelle T Clinton
  • You Will Be Hearing from Us Shortly / U A Fanthorpe
  • Anti-Racist Person / Marsha Prescod
  • 'Paki Go Home' / Himani Bannerji
  • Hi De Buckras Hi! / Grace Nichols
  • Ain't I a Woman? / Sojourner Truth
  • Miss Geeta / Margaret Reckord
  • I Love My Master / Nancy Morejon
  • Skin-Teeth / Grace Nichols
  • She's Free! / Frances E W Harper
  • Woman's Issue / Margaret Atwood
  • Ugly Things / Teresita Fernandez
  • Ita / Yolanda Ulloa
  • Epilogue I and II / Anna Akhmatova
  • Survivor / Katherine Gallagher
  • I Will Live and Survive / Irina Ratushinskaya
  • Under Attack / Margaret Randall
  • Artemis / Rita Boumi-Pappas
  • Ala / Grace Nichols
  • Krinio / Rita Boumi-Papps
  • Be Still Heart / Nilene O A Foxworth
  • Greenham Women / Wendy Poussard
  • No War / Judith Kazantzis
  • Day I Once Dreamed / Pat Arrowsmith
  • Flesh / Deborah Levy
  • Everything Is Wonderful / Jayne Cortez
  • Women on the Road to Pine Gap / Wendy Poussard
  • Like an Orchid in Deep Muddy Water / Nilene O A Foxworth
  • I Live in Cuba / Lourdes Casal
  • If You Want to Know Me / Noemia da Sousa
  • White-Hot Blizzard / Irina Ratushinskaya
  • To the tune 'The River Is Red' / Ch'iu Chin
  • All That You Have Given Me Africa / Anoma Kanie
  • Yes, I Am an African Woman / Nilene O A Foxworth
  • Credo / Denise Levertov
  • Praise / Dinah Livingstone
  • Credo / Jean Lipkin
  • Song of Hope / Daisy Yamora
  • To My Unknown Friend / Irina Ratushinskaya
  • Watching a Child Watching a Witch / Jenny Joseph
  • Political Activist Living Alone / Pat Arrowsmith
  • Now or Never / Astra
  • Morning Athletes / Marge Piercy
  • Poor Old Fat Woman / Christine Donald
  • To the tune 'Eternal Happiness' / Li Ch'ing-Chao
  • Short Biography of a Washerwoman / Yolanda Ulloa
  • Old People Dozing / Denise Levertov
  • After My Grandmother's Death / Michele Roberts
  • Eurynome / Eleni Fourtouni
  • Love / Nilene O A Foxworth
  • Song of the Old Woman / Anonymous
  • 'For her Birthday' / Susan Wallbank
  • Folk Song / Anonymous
  • Near Death / Stef Pixner
  • Song of an Old Woman Abandoned by Her Tribe / Anonymous
  • Life-Hook / Juana de Ibarbourou
  • On Ageing / Maya Angelou
  • One Flesh / Elizabeth Jennings
  • Bean Eaters / Gwendolyn Brooks
  • ' already old age is wrinkling my' / Sappho

Editorial Reviews


Compiled with a specific purpose-to redress the omission of women's work in traditional writing collections-Ain't I A Woman! flows through the varied experiences of childhood, adolescence, love, sex, parenthood, family and work in the poetry of women from around the world. A welcome departure from the sometimes disjointed anthology, this collection is an exciting tool for discovering and celebrating women's contributions to poetry. -- From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by KS --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Description

Spanning the centuries from Sappho's Greece to tenth-century Japan, from nineteenth-century Chile to Zindziswa Mandela's twentieth-century South Africa, the voices of these women poets express themes of love, injustice, motherhood, and loss, and the oppressions of race and sex. The sequence of the poems moves from youth to old age, and they bear witness to the triumphs as well as the pain and frustration of women in many times and in many places.

Among the many poets whose work is included are Anna Akhmatova, Maya Angelou, Judith Kazantzis, Gabriela Mistral, Marge Piercy, Irina Ratushinskaya and Alice Walker.

Illona Linthwaite began gathering this collection several years ago, initially for a theatrical performance. Here, in this unique exchange between women of many races, affirming their differences and what they have in common, are more than 150 poems which assert the black abolitionist Sojourner Truth's challenge, "Ain't I a Woman!"

In addition to the poems, there are biographies of the 91 contributors.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Boost on Self-Esteem, June 7, 2000
By Christine Bryant (Alexandria, VA) - See all my reviews
Ain't I a Woman was not a surprise to me. It is full of beautiful works of art. This book is full of voices of many different women, with different lives, different backgrounds but from their voices you can feel their strength and each voice in that book can add to your self-esteem and make you feel stronger about yourself as a women with every poem. Although some poems are not as powerful as others, their messages are still there: "I lived, I saw, I loved, I struggled, I died, but most importantly I felt, felt what life was like and from my words you might learn how it really is to be a woman". This book should be read by anyone who has time get lost in its poetry. I personally read a piece of the book everyday at work and I am glad that I made the time. There are many different writers in this book and I recommend reading different works from those authors as well.

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold, striking, and sure to produce favorites, July 31, 1999
By A Customer
This book obtains its title from Sojourner Truth's incomparable speech in 1851, and for the most part is brilliant and moving. My main complaint is that it focuses on the physical (sex, childbirth, etc.) so much that it could be classified as erotic poetry instead of a full exploration of womanhood. However, look for amazing cultural and chronological diversity in authors, and refreshing humor in poems like "Sho nuff." The development of the book is thematic, according to stages of life by also by subject. Series show different visions of famous women such as Jezebel, Cleopatra, and Medusa, which ends with a hilarious conversation between Medusa and Eve. The poems in this collection really strike - not everyone will like everything, but I'm sure everyone will find SOMETHING in here that really gets their attention. My personal favorite is "Witch." There are dozens of poems in here, enough to make the book seem very long, but since no poem is longer than two pages, I garantee you won't get bored.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic and modern women's poetry from around the world., May 10, 2002
By MLPlayfair (Ravenna, OH) - See all my reviews
This is one of the best anthologies of poetry I've ever found. The purpose: Bring together words from women of all cultures, all ages, all corners of the world. Here are young women, old women, fat women, starving women, lives touched by peace, war, spiritual joy, physical abuse, passion, motherhood, loss. There are beautiful, haunting words here. There are cold, hard, brutal images here. If you're a woman who complains about feminists, please read this book and try to understand what women have had to go through so that you could be where you are today: free to complain. If only to have a copy of Sojourner Truth's immortal "Ain't I a Woman?" speech from 1852, this book would be worth the price. Read this book for the incredible messages here. You will be moved.

Hell hath no fury like a group of privileged white het men who mistakenly believe they've been scorned by women

 [image of book cover is from here]

What follows was written by Andrea Dworkin, about men and woman-hating.
I want to talk to you about equality, what equality is and what it means. It isn't just an idea. It's not some insipid word that ends up being bullshit. It doesn't have anything at all to do with all those statements like: "Oh, that happens to men too." I name an abuse and I hear: "Oh, it happens to men too." That is not the equality we are struggling for. We could change our strategy and say: well, okay, we want equality; we'll stick something up the ass of a man every three minutes.

You've never heard that from the feminist movement, because for us equality has real dignity and importance--it's not some dumb word that can be twisted and made to look stupid as if it had no real meaning.

As a way of practicing equality, some vague idea about giving up power is useless. Some men have vague thoughts about a future in which men are going to give up power or an individual man is going to give up some kind of privilege that he has. That is not what equality means either.

Equality is a practice. It is an action. It is a way of life. It is a social practice. It is an economic practice. It is a sexual practice. It can't exist in a vacuum. You can't have it in your home if, when the people leave the home, he is in a world of his supremacy based on the existence of his cock and she is in a world of humiliation and degradation because she is perceived to be inferior and because her sexuality is a curse.

This is not to say that the attempt to practice equality in the home doesn't matter. It matters, but it is not enough. If you love equality, if you believe in it, if it is the way you want to live--not just men and women together in a home, but men and men together in a home and women and women together in a home--if equality is what you want and what you care about, then you have to fight for the institutions that will make it socially real.  -- Andrea Dworkin, "I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There is No Rape"

Let's take a moment to note what Dworkin DOESN'T call for: sticking something up the ass of a man every three minutes. Why? Here's why: because she didn't want men to suffer what women suffer, because she was against human suffering. You'd never know it from all the vile and overtly misogynistically hateful stuff men say about her, including right after she died. And these men have the audacity to publicly proclaim, ad nauseam, that WOMEN hate MEN. Antifeminist devote whole websites, discussion forums, and blogs to noting how much feminists hate men. Notice this as well: when antifeminist men quote Dworkin, they never quote that she says raping men is not what feminism is about because feminists values equality and dignity.

The men who are hateful to feminists, who the men mistakenly believe hate them, are not well-read in womanist and feminist literature. They only know about a dozen quotes by a very few white women, because that's all they've read--those few quotes, taken out of context or never written by the author alleged to have penned them. And so they don't really know what radical feminists are saying at all, but claim to be experts on the subject. Well, on all subjects, actually.

That feminists value these things (equality and dignity) is well-evidenced in their writings. But white het men who hate women, gay men, and men of color would prefer not to use those quotes when making their very flimsy case that women hate men and THAT'S the problem with society. It's a flimsy case because it has no grounding in social reality, including in the texts and speeches of radical feminists. Instead of confronting who actually holds the hate, there are groups of WHM who go on and on about the problem of misandry--supposedly expressed by women, not by the people who do hate men--other men. Men cannot admit how much they hate men. Because they need the capriciously conditional approval of men too much.

So, in place of men being loving, men protect and defend each others' misogyny. They may stand by their men but they are rarely kind to one another because men fear each other. A lot. They protect each other out of fear of being rejected and losing status among their male peers. But that's a far cry from love, and there's no dignity or self-respect in being dick-whipped.

Rather than acknowledge all of this, face it, own up to it, we men are cowardly, but in a decidedly masculinist way: we argue with each other, we compete for power, resources, and prizes, we war against each other. None of that is love.

I'm posting here a few examples of what women say to men about men. Let's see if these passages find their way onto those blogs, websites, and forums where WHM go on and on hatefully--and no sense of dignity, about everyone else.

A while ago I posted an open letter to Tiger Woods from radical feminist Alice Walker. Here is that open letter. Note a level of compassion rarely expressed by men toward other men or, particularly, toward women who cheat on their husbands.

Next is this, from radical feminist Audre Lorde, about her son, Jonathan. This was written while he was growing up with her. He was fourteen at the time of this writing:
Jonathan said that he didn't think there was too much in feminism for boys, although it certainly was good to be able to cry if he felt like it and not to have to play football if he didn't want to. I think of this sometimes now when I see him practising for his Brown Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself. And the best way I can do this is to be who I am and hope that he will learn from this not how to be me, which is not possible, but how to be himself. And this means how to move to that voice from within himself, rather than to those raucous, persuasive, or threatening voices from outside, pressuring him to be what the world wants him to be.

And that is hard enough.

Jonathan is learning to find within himself some of the different faces of courage and strength, whatever he chooses to call them. Two years ago, when Jonathan was twelve and in the seventh grade, one of his friends at school who had been to the house persisted in calling Francis "the maid." When Jonathan corrected him, the boy then referred to her as "the cleaning woman." Finally Jonathan said, simply, "Francis is not the cleaning woman, she's my mother's lover." Interestingly enough, it is the teachers at this school who still have not recovered from his openness.  -- Audre Lorde, "Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist Response"

Now, dear readers, which gender do you suppose "the threatening voices" are in a boy's life? In mine, it was boys' and men's voices. And in yours? What gender was the one who threatened to beat up other men, and also women? And do it. Who threaten to wage war against "others"? And do it. Right now. People dying: men, women, children. Men wage these wars, not women. Men do the most brutal things, and the women activists' response is to say, "we deman a more humane standard of being".

I close this post with this statement by Houzan Mahmoud on how she opposes the execution of the men who stoned a woman to death--a woman she fought to keep alive. Women consistently have been on the side of caring for and about men. But somehow when women are explicitly pro-woman, men assume that means they hate men.

Despite all this evidence here of women loving humanity and the plethora of men's misogynist quotes, racist white homophobic het men get to brand "feminists as "man-haters" and "femi-nazis". Show me the man-hating in anything written by women here, fellas. Quote THESE women, with THESE passages and see how far you get with your illogical allegations that radical feminists hate men. Why, I bet these guys didn't even know there WERE radical feminists of color. Including LESBIAN ones. What do you have to say about them, fellas?

The following story, a bit further down, recounts the horror of a woman being stoned to death by men, including her brothers. I know a white woman, class-privileged, who was raped both by her father, her brothers, and her male cousins. Gang-raped by the brothers and cousins. Privately raped by dad.

I tend to want men to experience what men do to women, to know what it feels like. I'd be fine with women stoning and raping men, to whatever degrees of harm and injury, in front of hundreds of women, to humiliate them, make them suffer socially. I have a "by any means necessary" attitude about how male dominance of women and the requisite atrocities should be stopped. But you won't find that policy in radical feminist writing. I'm a man, so I can sound like I hate men, even though I don't. But men do insult me, because I'm gay. The white het men who complain about those radical feminists being so mean and hateful; they call me a f*ggot. What do you call that? Love? These guys have no moral ground to stand on. And my most alarmist things I want for men were not learned from radical feminists. That eye for an eye stuff is man-speak, after all.

But all this "exposure of truth" kind of blows the logic-lids off all those boys who insist "feminism" = "misandry". As if. WHM, you're the misandrists AND the misogynists AND the homophobes, not radical feminists, and there's plenty of proof both in this post and in the world. MEN call for the deaths of men, not women. MEN killed a woman in this story, publicly, not the other way around. MEN raped a white class-privileged woman I know when she was a girl. MEN--three of them--molested another white woman I know, all separate incidents, over one summer. Wake up and smell your own hatred for humanity, and stop blaming feminists for doing what you do so very well, meaning, callously and horrendously.

What follows is from *here*.

Iraq: Executing Du'a Khalil's killers is not justice, but a violation of human rights

Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
Statement by Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad Representative:  According to official sources at Ninawa Criminal Court, the four people charged with the stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad on 7 April 2007 have been sentenced to death. The decision was made on 27 March, just three weeks before the third anniversary of Du'as murder. It is reported that two of the convicted men are Du'a's brothers. Du'a was stoned to death in front of almost 2,000 men; with Iraqi police maintaining "law and order" while the stoning took place. The authorities knew about the atrocity, but did not prevent it.

The International Campaign against the Killing and Stoning of Women in Kurdistan has campaigned tirelessly for the killers to be brought to justice. Our campaign was the first to expose Du'a's murder, and brought great pressure to bear on the Iraqi government and Kurdistan regional government through demonstrations, seminars, conferences and a petition to the Kurdish parliament signed by 16,000 people across the world. We demanded not only the bringing of Du'a's killers to justice, but an end to so-called 'crimes of honour'. But the decision to execute the killers is no justice and not what we want.

Capital punishment is the most horrendous form of punishment. We oppose capital punishment as a form of so-called justice; it will not end honour killings, but only make our society more brutal and violent, conditioning people to accept killing. We do not want to go back to the dark days of the Ba'athist regime, when capital punishment was used to silence people and keep them terrorised. Our society has had enough of violence, terror and oppression. The Ba'ath regime brought back 'honour killings' in the late 80s, allowing men to protect their so-called family honour by murdering women. For decades under both Saddam's dictatorship and the rule of Kurdish government in the north, society has been pushed backward, with anti-women values and norms strengthened and men allowed to carry out violence, killings, rape and brutal discrimination against women.

The current family status law upholds patriarchal, religious and conservative norms which discriminate against women. The government has totally failed to promote equality, women's rights and individual rights and freedoms. They insist on implementing Islamic Sharia law and recognising ethnic, tribal and religious mores instead of a modern civil family law. Our basic problem is a ruling class which divides society on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity and race. This system constantly reproduces violence against women, but executing four men will not solve the problem.

We urge workers', women's and human rights organisations and activists the world over to condemn capital punishment. Laying the foundations for human rights, women's rights and equality is the only solution.

Houzan Mahmoud
Representative Abroad of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq