All The Men I Never Married: Poetry and Everyday Sexism
Despite the fact that most women will experience some form of sexism during their lifetime, contemporary poets have been strangely silent on this subject. My research project will address this gap by creating a portfolio of poetry which explores how experiences of ‘everyday sexism’ (Bates) and micro-aggression can be represented in poetic practice. The ability of the female poet, to use different modes of address, talking both to and about men and masculinity, and with the potential to explore previously ignored or neglected areas of female experience creates the potential for ‘critical consciousness’ (bell hooks) in the audience and the potential for social change. The project will also consider three other issues: the role of the female gaze, representations of female desire and how these poems are situated in a wider contemporary context of women’s poetry.
The Everyday Sexism movement, led by Laura Bates and its popularity on social media indicates that focusing on small-scale assaults at an individual level is a powerful tool in naming and raising awareness of sexism. The more recent Me Too movement also supports this conclusion, and demonstrates the long-lasting importance of the slogan ‘The personal is political’. The challenge for both men and women now is how to move beyond naming a problem and achieve radical transformation on an individual and social level. My project will outline ways in which lyric poetry, balanced between public and private discourse, can play a part in this.
During this project, I will examine the work of Adrienne Rich and Claudia Rankine to explore the different ways the approach the representation of women’s experience in poetry, using their poetry and critical writing as both touchstone and path finder for my own creative and critical work.
Research Degree: PhD by Professional Practice, Full-time
Funded: Vice-Chancellors Scholarship, Manchester Metropolitan University