Weaving in Womanhood

I’ve seen themes of my poetry dwell in the familial realm for many years. When I was younger, I would write poetry about my younger sister and how proud (or angry) I was that she was born. I would write about my Mother being the comfiest pillow ever. I would write, write, write about how much I loved being in a “girls only” household with my mom and two sisters. I would muse about the woes of being the middle child.

I think my poetry finds root in the über girl-ness of my girlhood. Growing up with all women was a beautiful blessing, empowering to say the least, but also difficult to reconcile with loss. My little family has grown to embrace womanhood and all that it should stand for, the beauty and strength it entails, the problems it produces. When writing poetry, I often think of womanhood (however one would wish to define it) because that is what I knew to observe, celebrate, and protect growing up. I think a major source of my poetry is the three women I grew up alongside. They weave themselves into every poem somehow, some way. I tend to focus on a woman’s interactions with everyday life because it has always been concerning to me that, “Hey, you’ve got no rhythm section in that family of yours!” and “Now you just need a brother to complete the family!” were acceptable and even charming things to say.

I take interest in society and the woman in my poetry, and I wonder how my poetic voice would be different if I had been raised a different way?

To cap this off, I’ll share a snippet of Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou, a poem my mother has always enjoyed.

Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

One Reply to “Weaving in Womanhood”

  1. Grace!
    As someone who is always so intrigued by what “womanhood” means in our different pockets of society this was a great read! I think it’s wonderful that you celebrate your “girl-ness” and that you find it a powerful part of your poetic process! Also love that Angelou drop!!! I think it’s great to be writing about women and womanhood because it really is an ever-expanding subject.

    When I write about women or woman I often think about how in the place I was raised there was a confusing message about womanhood. I grew up in a very male-centric household and often I would be told to be ladylike if I was “out of line” but praised when I accomplished something that was more “manly” like farm work or math (eye roll) and it was rather confusing. I was often ridiculed for my girliness and it was confusing as a pink loving girl in love with Lizzy Maguire.

    I think that when I start to be challenged by writing about womanhood is when I think about how the title is completely a social construct and that there are many different ways to define woman, as you mentioned in your post. I’ve also recently started to really critique my subconscious definitions of woman because of course there are trans people and gender queer and gender nonconforming people in the world who also need to be hella celebrated and every person celebrates their gender differently. I feel like it’s a constant reminder to challenge myself in my writing about this so I don’t feel exclusionary to many people who are excluded on the daily.

    Thank you for your share!!!

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