VOICES OF LIGHT by Aliki Barnstone


Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women from around the World, from Ancient Sumeria to Now
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An anthology of more than two hundred poems by women from the ancient world to the present day, organized around the common ground of spirituality. Although the preface (not seen) by editor Barnstone (English/Univ. of Nevada) may explain her criteria for judgment, ’spiritual and visionary— appear to be vague concepts in her hands, and the volume they—ve given birth to seems deeply in thrall to the fuzziest nostrums of the feminist New Age. We—re introduced to Hildegard of Bingen holding forth over there in the corner beside the eternally dreadful Phillis Wheatley—who should have been allowed to rest in peace—and poor Anne Bradstreet, who seems rather bored by the proceedings. Not to forget Sappho, or Sor Juana InÇz de la Cruz: We have met them all before, but now they—re assembled together with Emily Dickinson, H.D., Marianne Moore, and Gwendolyn Brooks—and we may be permitted to wonder if they find the party as odd as we do, and whether Saint Catherine of Siena and Sylvia Plath have very much to say to each other. Many of the ancient writers are practically unknown and deserve a larger audience, and the familiar faces are pleasant company at the worst of times (who wouldn—t want to reread Mrs. Browning?), yet what exactly these writers have in common above the waist is far from clear. An authoritative mess.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1999
ISBN: 1-57062-283-3
Page count: 248pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1999