AMERICAN WOMEN POETS: Pioneers of Modern Poetry by Jean Gould

AMERICAN WOMEN POETS: Pioneers of Modern Poetry

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Introducing this collection of short biographies, Gould says she hopes to ""give a sense of the struggle waged by these women for equality of treatment in the arts,"" as well as to celebrate their role in the formation of modern poetry. This modest and certainly hackneyed goal is never realized, however, because Gould writes not about real women, their problems and achievements, but about ""personalities."" Dickinson, Amy Lowell, Stein, Sara Teasdale, Elinor Wylie, H.D., Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Louise Bogan, and Babette Deutsch--all these strong individuals get the same sticky, chatty, first-name treatment (""Like Amy, Gertrude preferred nocturnal hours for writing""). Gould, moreover, fails to understand most of the poems she refers to so cozily (mistakenly citing a stanza here or there as illustrating an event or relationship in the poet's life); and faced with the difficult works of Dickinson, Lowell, and others, she either misreads them, ignores them, or simply calls them ""difficult."" By lumping these diverse poets together, indeed, she ends by reinforcing the very image she set out to deny: that this subculture of silly, headstrong women led dramatic, emotional lives and played with poetry.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1980
Publisher: Dodd, Mead