Every feminist poet you need in your life right now
Someone take me to a poetry slam immediately
You know that stereotype of poetry, the one where it’s unrelatable and stoic – Walt Whitman in a suit in love with grass and all that. Well, luckily in modern times female poets have actually wrote about stuff that matters (sorry Whitman, I just find Fergie’s humps more relatable than your mountains). I’ve spent far too much time watching slam poetry and thought I’d bring you guys a taste of all the amazing poetry that sticks it’s middle finger up to misogyny.
Olivia Gatwood is basically the queen of viral spoken poetry now, odds are this poem has already been on your timeline, and for a damn good reason: it’s amazing. Gatwood perfectly explains the purpose of bitch face as the ultimate defence mechanism against creeps, why we got to resort to not smiling to keep attention to a minimum.
You know those makeover movies where the girl goes from 0 to 100 real quick and suddenly bags the man of her dreams? Well this a poem about the ‘after’ girl, it’s a gut wrenching honest insight into the effects of how we validate eating disorders in phrases such as ‘you look so much better’. Blythe Baird is legit badass, the 19-year-old actress, poet, and feminist who currently holds the state title for Poetry Interpretation at Colorado’s national speech tournament.
This poem’s a verbal rollercoaster: beginning with accounts of childhood motion sickness on planes, to the sexual assaults she’s faced on planes, and then it ends with her threatening to burn the whole thing down. Reagan currently attends Lincoln University (the American one) and this poem made her the youngest Grand Slam champion ever from Nebraska, and the first woman to hold the title in six years.
Okay this might actually be the one of the funniest poems I have ever heard. Twohy basically defends her love of FanFic by suggesting it’s less misogynistic and as legit as mainstream porn. Now I may not care about FanFic but she’s completely right, by the end of this you’ll also agree that the fake orgasms of porn stars are about as valid as the spells of Hogwarts. Also just look at the name. Twohy is currently a law student, but also has her own poetry collection out, because one trade just ain’t enough.
Dominique Christina is ‘an award-winning writer, performer, educator, and activist’ according to her bio, she also has five national poetry slam titles and this video should explain why. Written in retaliation to a tweet by a douchebag explaining how he dumped his girlfriend because her period started during sex, Christina basically decimates him through some of the best put downs I’ve ever heard. Use this poem against any asshole who tells you periods are gross. Period.
You know when you introduce a guy to your parents and your dad says, “Break her heart and I’ll…’, well this is the poem equivalent of that line. Parent may start this video as a tough guy stereotype with tattoo’s and a shaved head (closet jock and explicit nerd according to his twitter) but by the end of this even an alien would cry at the love this guy has for his daughter. Also this poem has an incredible twist at the end that M. Night Shyamalan would stand up and applaud, just wait for it.
Orion Carloto is a writer, poet, and YouTuber based in Brooklyn, NY and is basically my OG girl crush and damn. Instead of settling for just being gorgeous, she’s also and incredible poet (can you save some for the rest of us?). Scrolling through her IG is likely to result in sheer awe at everything this woman does.
Rupi Kaur is a Indian-born Canadian poet, writer, and illustrator (genuinely her illustrations are beautiful) who is one of the aesthetically pleasing poets I have ever read (like c’mon look up). Her book of poetry and prose Milk and Honey, will hit you square in the feels and demolish you to build you the fuck up again. Just don’t read it in public.
Key Ballah is a Canadian poet (because something is in the water in Canada) and writer who writes incredible poems tacking pretty much every fucked-up thing in the world. Her debut poetry collection Preparing My Daughter For Rain: notes on how to heal and survive should be given to every new mother and her newest collection Skin & Sun is described as ‘a book of poems directed at healing and reclaiming the self’ and let’s be honest, who doesn’t need that.
You might recognise this poem from its badass feature on Beyonce’s Lemonade, but long before the poem featured in Shire’s 2012 spoken word album ‘warsan versus melancholy (the seven stages of being lonely)’ (check it out here if you need it, and trust me you need it) Shire was also a damn famous poet long before lemonade – she’s the first young poet laureate of London and in 2013 she was awarded the Brunel University African Poetry Prize.
Much dwarfed by her contemporary Sylvia Plath, Sexton was actually a far more controversial and successful poet at the time. Much of her poetry tackled such taboos as female masturbation and menstruation without batting an eyelid. Her depression and mania where often the centre of her poems so they’re by no means easy reads, but their uncomfortableness is necessary to the whole point of them- mental illness isn’t easy and neither is poetry.
Featured image via Rupi Kaur’s Instagram.