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Ain't I a Woman! A Book of Women's Poetry from Around the World

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One hundred and fifty poems from around the world and across the ages cover themes of motherhood and youth, race and loss, sex and love. Featured writers include Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Sappho, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Marge Piercy.


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One hundred and fifty poems from around the world and across the ages cover themes of motherhood and youth, race and loss, sex and love. Featured writers include Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Sappho, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Marge Piercy.

30 review for Ain't I a Woman! A Book of Women's Poetry from Around the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sincerae

    A collection of poems not only written by women from around the world but by women from different eras. The title comes from a speech of the ex-slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cami

    This started with such promise. This is a collection of poetry by women from around the world. It was originally compiled for theatrical performance by the editor with the poems doing a 'call and answer' bit. With this in mind, I decided to read it straight through. Amongst the great and good there was also enough muck to take the pleasure of the poetry out of it for me. This will remain unfinished.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Can I get more than five stars, please? This book is so good I want to frame every page and put it on the wall so I can read it again and again. The poems are by women from every country, young, old and deceased. Many are translated from other languages. But are so dead-on about women's lives and so powerful. The book isn't new, and the page are yellow in my used copy, but I still want to give it at least 12 stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michal Mahgerefteh

    This is one of my favorite poetry collections about women collected from all backgrounds, cultues, religions. Most reflect on the struggles of women within family and community. I go back to this collection often.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Each time I pick this book up, different poems speak to me. It's the best thing to keep by your bed for sleepless nights!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kaz

    Unique exchange between women of many races, affirming their differences and what they have in common... I was moved beyond belief,in many different directions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mario

    Getting in touch with my sisters and sistahs! The creativity is refreshing as is the outpouring of emotion! And I'm only halfway through the collection!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol Waters

    I used one of these poems at my daughter's funeral.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Routh

    I wish we had been given more immediate context about the authors, and the poems' division of topics--while present--was not clearly marked, which would have been nice, but overall, this is a great collection of poems from a wide assortment of authors, many of which I'd never heard of before. I will definitely be keeping this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kt

    Most people who are going to find this book probably have at least a cursory background in women/race/class studies, and I don't think this book's poems offers many new perspectives from those fields. However, what this book does offer is a plethora of wonderful voices and words from around the world expressing ideas about those fields in particular relation to the "woman experience." Originally created for a one-woman-show (and I think useful to stage performers), the poems, over 150 of them, a Most people who are going to find this book probably have at least a cursory background in women/race/class studies, and I don't think this book's poems offers many new perspectives from those fields. However, what this book does offer is a plethora of wonderful voices and words from around the world expressing ideas about those fields in particular relation to the "woman experience." Originally created for a one-woman-show (and I think useful to stage performers), the poems, over 150 of them, are generally organized by chronological topic: from youth to old age. It also lists short biographies of the 90+ contributors. An example poem (excerpt): Ch'iu Chin, China "To the Tune 'The River is Red' ... The perfume of freedom burns my mind With grief for my country. When will we ever be cleansed? Comrades, I say to you, Spare no effort, struggle unceasingly, That at last peace may come to our people. And jewelled dresses and deformed feet Will be abandoned. And one day, all under heaven Will see beautiful free women, Blooming like fields of flowers, And bearing brilliant and noble human beings." (p.158)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlane Brady

    Beautiful poetry encompassing all emotions from women of all ages and throughout the world. Absolutely magical. I love giving this book as a gift. I wish I could speak with each and every woman to listen to their story of life. Here are a few short ones I love: GRAND JETEE by Mary Mackey, USA some rhythms must remain unbroken like a dancer in an arabsque some women cannot carry a child in their arms some come to salvation drawn by the hands of small children some can only make their leaps alone. SKIN-TEETH Beautiful poetry encompassing all emotions from women of all ages and throughout the world. Absolutely magical. I love giving this book as a gift. I wish I could speak with each and every woman to listen to their story of life. Here are a few short ones I love: GRAND JETEE by Mary Mackey, USA some rhythms must remain unbroken like a dancer in an arabsque some women cannot carry a child in their arms some come to salvation drawn by the hands of small children some can only make their leaps alone. SKIN-TEETH by Grace Nichols, born 1950, Guyana Not every skin-teeth is a smile 'Massa' if you see me smiling when you pass if you see me bending when you ask Know that I smile know that I bend only the better to rise and strike again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Qu

    Jenny Joseph – warning (1) Cheryl Clarke – If you black get back (5) Chirlane McCray – I used to think (23) Nilene O.A.Foxworth – Sho nuff (28) Maureen burge – Disillusion (43) Invitation – grace Nichols (54) Eva toth – the creation of the world (59) Maya Angelou – they went home (66) Mary Mackey – grand Jetee (90) Moira O’Neill – Her Sister (91) Jean Lipkin – Father (102) Margaret Reckord – the Journey (102) Frances W. Harper – Vashti (110) Michelle T. Clinton - Anti Apart hate Art (121) Marsha Prescod – Ant Jenny Joseph – warning (1) Cheryl Clarke – If you black get back (5) Chirlane McCray – I used to think (23) Nilene O.A.Foxworth – Sho nuff (28) Maureen burge – Disillusion (43) Invitation – grace Nichols (54) Eva toth – the creation of the world (59) Maya Angelou – they went home (66) Mary Mackey – grand Jetee (90) Moira O’Neill – Her Sister (91) Jean Lipkin – Father (102) Margaret Reckord – the Journey (102) Frances W. Harper – Vashti (110) Michelle T. Clinton - Anti Apart hate Art (121) Marsha Prescod – Anti–Racist Person (124) soujourner Truth - Ain’t I a Woman (129) Nilene O.A. Foxworth – Be Still Heart (147) Deborah Levy – Flesh (151) Jayne Cortez - Everything is wonderful (152) Nilene O.A. Foxworth – Yes I am an African Woman (159)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cathleen Ash

    From Maya Angelous to Sappho, from Yolando Ulloa (Cuba) to Suniti Namjoshi (India), this book contains powerful writings by women and about women, both within the home, within the cultures, within the world. This book has its roots in the theatre, and in Sojourner Truth's famous speech of 1852. A love letter to Samson from Delila (by Carole Gregory) epitomizes the tone of this book: strong, daring, and finding humor where one can. Poetry readers will love it, young adult women will enjoy it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Turns out a love/sex/angst poem written by a Cuban woman is no different to one written by a Japanese woman, nor American woman. The romanticiztion of anything is utter tripe, so I really don't know what I expected. There were decent, fragmented poems here and there that did incite me to keep turning the page. However, I was largely unaffected by the anthology, save for Margaret Atwood's visceral, biting poem, titled, "A Woman's Issue."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Clarice

    A very cultural diverse collection. What I'm most pleased about is I saw a display of Page Poetry at the Leonardo Museum the week before, where you create your own Poetry from whatever words hidden in the text speak to you. I pulled several pages from this book and have already started creating my poetry art. It was the perfect book to do this with.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Verna Edwards

    I usually read these books a bit each month. a start in january and take as long as necessary to finish. love being able to pick and choose the poems that fit my mood when i pick up the book once again.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This anthology has many poems to fill the women author requirement for the students doing Mr. Wood's anthology project.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meena

    Well this book was a collection of poems from women around the world basically telling their stories, their personal opinions, and grievances with the world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    A wonderful collection of poems written by women through the ages, in many different countries and experiencing different walks of life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Burch

    Some great poetry about the stages and seasons of a woman's life. I liked the variety from around the world and through time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I like this collection - I would love to see it on stage. Some of my favorite poems/poets are represented here.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bereda

    My first book of poetry turns out fine!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Malola

    It was fine. I'm not that into poetry; but there were several poems that I thought were very good.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I enjoyed the poems from different people and in a wide span of years. Great insight! I recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    Ain’t I A Woman was a phenomenal read. It is an anthology edited by Illona Linthwaite. While not each and every poem spoke to me, I’m sure each has its own appreciative audience. Many poems were inspirational and discussed female empowerment and intersectionality. For me, one of my favorite poems in this selection was one by Jean Tepperman, born 1945, USA, called Witch. “They told me/ I smile prettier with my mouth closed./ They said-/ better cut your hair-/ long, it’s all frizzy,/ looks Jewish Ain’t I A Woman was a phenomenal read. It is an anthology edited by Illona Linthwaite. While not each and every poem spoke to me, I’m sure each has its own appreciative audience. Many poems were inspirational and discussed female empowerment and intersectionality. For me, one of my favorite poems in this selection was one by Jean Tepperman, born 1945, USA, called Witch. “They told me/ I smile prettier with my mouth closed./ They said-/ better cut your hair-/ long, it’s all frizzy,/ looks Jewish”. Tepperman describes the unfiltered antisemitism and sexism in the USA, constantly criticizing women because they do not fit into their box. “I have been invisible,/ weird and supernatural./ I want my black dress./ I want my hair/ curling wild around me./ I want my broomstick/ from the closet where I hid it./ Tonight I meet my sisters/ in the graveyard/ Around midnight/ if you stop at a red light/ in the wet city traffic,/ watch for us against the moon./ We are screaming,/ we are flying,/ laughing, and won’t stop.” Tepperman touches on the feeling of being intentionally hidden away, forced to be someone else. The setting of the graveyard could have multiple meanings, a graveyard could just be a cool place for witches to meet, it could represent the death surrounding he Jewish brothers and sisters, and death surrounding those who don’t fit in, or it could possibly represent the death she would like to bring to this way of thinking. The first thing to draw me in about this poem was the title, I personally call myself a witch, so the title was eye-catching. Not only that, but I relate to the treatment Tepperman depicts here. While this treatment was not due to my religion or ethnicity, it was because I didn’t subscribe to what they believed I should be. Lastly, I have always loved the “aesthetic” of what a supposed witch was, so details like “In the graveyard/ Around midnight” and “We are screaming,/ we are flying,/ laughing, and won’t stop” just flat out make me happy. I can genuinely say there was not one thing I didn’t like. Not every poem sparked something in me, but that is because I am not every poem’s audience. There are many more poems like this one, from women in different time periods, from many places around the world. This is just one of the poems that speaks to me. I recommend you give it a read, and find which ones speak to you.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    It was difficult for me to decide on a star-rating for this collection of poetry. For me, it was a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some poems made me cry or touched my heart and soul, some poetry thoughts I did not agree with but I tried to see it from the perspective of the poet, some poems did not affect me in any way (which was disappointing). Because the good poems in this collection are truly great, I gave it four stars (despite the boring or disappointing poems). All in all, I It was difficult for me to decide on a star-rating for this collection of poetry. For me, it was a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some poems made me cry or touched my heart and soul, some poetry thoughts I did not agree with but I tried to see it from the perspective of the poet, some poems did not affect me in any way (which was disappointing). Because the good poems in this collection are truly great, I gave it four stars (despite the boring or disappointing poems). All in all, I enjoyed the experience of reading this collection. I haven't decided whether I will permanently keep Ain't I a Woman! on my bookcase at home, but for a while, I will. And let me add: The poem that made me cry every time I read it is "Ain't I a Woman!" I read it aloud to myself many different nights, and sobbed each time. Confession: the title also makes me want to display it for the remainder of my life. I believe that I will return to it from time to time to read a few of the poems that touched me deeply.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Jackson

    Ain't I A Woman is a poetry collection of women poets named after Sojourner Truth's famous speech of 150 years ago. The only problem was: poetic though it certainly was and still is, it wasn't a poem. Someone just edited her speech to make it look and sound like a poem and shoved it in this book. I think that sums up the annoyance I felt at this colelction of poetry in general, as I often do with poetry, that people try way too hard to make their words sound deep and poetic. Sojourner Truth wasn Ain't I A Woman is a poetry collection of women poets named after Sojourner Truth's famous speech of 150 years ago. The only problem was: poetic though it certainly was and still is, it wasn't a poem. Someone just edited her speech to make it look and sound like a poem and shoved it in this book. I think that sums up the annoyance I felt at this colelction of poetry in general, as I often do with poetry, that people try way too hard to make their words sound deep and poetic. Sojourner Truth wasn't trying to be a poet; she was trying to be an activist. Every poet in this collection is clearly trying to be a poet, and sometimes failing. I love the idea of women's poetry, a collection of poetry by and for women, to talk about women's experiences, but these were dull. There were a few poems about activism and feminism that I enjoyed, and thanks to which I can rate this a star higher than I would have otherwise, but as usual with poetry, this anthology was a dud for me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Clare McCarthy

    Let the voices from this collection of women poets from around the world speak for themselves: "I dumped it (my soul) in a wastebin/along with the love I said I was finished with" (Sandy McIntosh) "There are many kinds of love/and I have lived some of them." (Katherine Gallagher) "they're talking about me/not to me but about me/through me" (Margaret Randall) "If you put a bit of love/ into ugly things/ you'll see that your sadness/ will begin to change color." Teresita Fernandez "Life is so dun/ drea Let the voices from this collection of women poets from around the world speak for themselves: "I dumped it (my soul) in a wastebin/along with the love I said I was finished with" (Sandy McIntosh) "There are many kinds of love/and I have lived some of them." (Katherine Gallagher) "they're talking about me/not to me but about me/through me" (Margaret Randall) "If you put a bit of love/ into ugly things/ you'll see that your sadness/ will begin to change color." Teresita Fernandez "Life is so dun/ drear/ dread -/ to have fun/ you need the odd drink/ and shimmering thing" (Pat Arrowsmith "because of knowing in my gut/ time was jogging onwards/ and i deserved something/ better/ for myself/ now"(Astra)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    Like any poetry anthology, this is a bit hit and miss. The misses are, mostly, the women from the UK and the US, who insist on writing about really trivial matters in a pretty dull way. That being said, there are also some great ones in here. I really loved reading all the Grace Nichols poems and I'm definitely going to look up some more of her work. There are gems, such as the Nina Cassian line, "Since you walked out on me / I'm getting lovelier by the hour," but did we really need "fuck off, y Like any poetry anthology, this is a bit hit and miss. The misses are, mostly, the women from the UK and the US, who insist on writing about really trivial matters in a pretty dull way. That being said, there are also some great ones in here. I really loved reading all the Grace Nichols poems and I'm definitely going to look up some more of her work. There are gems, such as the Nina Cassian line, "Since you walked out on me / I'm getting lovelier by the hour," but did we really need "fuck off, you wally (or some Old Testament equivalent)" from Michelene Wandor's Lilith Re-tells Esther's Story? Some of this book just screams SECOND WAVE. But I can't judge it too harshly - for a book I picked up for free at the book swap at my tube stop, it's not too bad.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Fackler

    An anthology based on a play/spoken word event. I liked these the most: Eve meets medusa, Michelene Wandor Every notice how it is with women, Margaret Randall Growing up, U. A. Fanthorpe He may be a photograph of himself, Tina Reid I said to poetry, Alice Walker I used to think, Chirlane McCray If you black get back, Cheryl Clarke Sho nuff, Nilene O.A. Foxworth Skin-Teeth, Grace Nichols The creation of the world, Éva Tóth The house of desire, Sherley Anne Williams Warning, Jenny Joseph

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