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Women’s Poetry on the Inhale . . .
You know how after years of going through the motions of doing a movement in yoga class, suddenly you just finally “get it”? This happened to me recently with something very basic: breathing. The whole idea that the inhalation is the time to lengthen/stretch your muscles, and the exhalation is the time for exertion, suddenly worked for me. I get it. And now I see that truth at work everywhere
—even in the National Museum of Women in the Arts during the inaugural ceremony for the Women’s Poetry Timeline.
This was an impressive event. The marble staircase swooped up towards the balcony where hors d’oeuvres were being passed. Singer Somi put us all in the mood with empowering crooning. The rest of the program included a tribute to Lucille Clifton, poems by Molly Peacock, a keynote lecture by Alicia Ostriker. I delivered my poem written in honor of the occasion (no, sorry, you can’t see a copy—it is being kept under wraps by the event organizer, Kim Bridgford, to be released when and in the way she chooses) while wearing the only pair of shoes I own that I can’t really walk in. A few minutes later, Kim pressed a button and made the Timeline go live to gasps and electric excitement. Even the many non-poets in the audience found it a dazzling evening.
One of the highlights for me was meeting one of my longtime Emily Dickinson heroines, Martha Nell Smith. As we chatted about women’s poetry, I saw that she shared my feeling that the quality of the energy in this area has changed. So many new things are happening, from WILLA to Honor Moore’s anthology, and they seem to be happening in a relaxed, expansive way, without the intensity of exertion that things had even a year ago. We looked at each other. It feels like the inhale in yoga, I said. Yes, she agreed. That’s it, exactly.