So far this summer, we have seen a lot of rain in my part of the world. (Perhaps that is why I recently picked up Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett at the local library.) Temperatures, also, have been a bit below average (I don't mind cooler temperatures; I am not a hot weather person!) I have just started what poet Sandy Longhorn calls a stay-at-home writer's residency and I am determined to review and/or finish a pile of poetry drafts.
I have spent a lot of time this past month or so catching up on some reading. June was Rust Belt month and I have posted reviews of three books (very different books) that tackle the Rust Belt (or in the case of one book, the general subject of rust itself). You can read the reviews on my Book Picks page.
Finally, for all of my Rust Belt readers: If you haven't discovered Belt Magazine, yet, you really need to take a look! Besides publishing online articles, essays, reviews, and interviews, Belt also has some great anthologies that include writing from Rust Belt cities. Right now, Belt is doing a fundraiser and could really use its readers' support.
There are five reasons why I love Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, a book that I finished just yesterday.
First, (and I will get the disclaimer out of the way), my poem, "Beauty Tips From the Girls on 3rd Shift" appears in this anthology. Originally published in Anti-, this poem is also in Stealing Dust, my first chapbook. It seems to be a favorite with my readers.
Second, I'm honored (and thrilled) that my poem is published in an anthology with some of my favorite women poets including, Mary Alexandra Agner, Shaindel Beers, Sandra Beasley, Jan Beatty, Denise Duhamel, Daisy Fried, and Dorianne Laux.
Third, although I pride myself on keeping up with poetry about work, this anthology introduced me to work by many poets I did not know. Who are some of these poets? Wendy Barker, Darcy Cummings, Jennifer Dotson, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Sarah Freligh, Erin Fristad, and Mary Ellen Talley, just to name a few. I especially love Talley's poem "Ghazal: Unbuckled Shoes" written in honor of the poet's older sister who is in her mid 70's and still works part time.
Fourth, I love how this book approaches its subject. As the title of this anthology suggests, this collection is about women and work and general responses to Lilly Ledbetter and her struggle for pay equality and justice. When I think of work, I think of women in the factory (perhaps because factory work is what I saw as work when I was young). Yes, there are plenty of factory poems in this anthology, but more importantly, there are poems that explore all types of women's work including retail jobs, waitressing work, teaching positions, and yes, jobs in the sex industry. Equally intriguing is the section dedicated to poems by and/or about women scientists and artists. I always have to remember that work, especially women's work, is not always defined by blue collar jobs!
Finally, this book has taken me back to my roots. In my first college-level English class, poet Judy Vollmer assigned the poetry anthology, Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life edited by Peter Oresick and Nicholas Coles. It was within the pages of this book that I discovered that yes, poetry could speak about the kind of life that I knew, the blue collar life of my family and my friends. I explored a bit of this life in Stealing Dust, but as I look back, I realize that my poetry has evolved a bit, and in some ways, my work has become more surreal. Reading this anthology made me miss the gritty realism often found in poetry about work.
Raising Lilly Ledbetter edited by Carolyne Wright, M.L. Lyons, and Eugenia Toledo, has just been released from Lost Horse Press. You can find out more information about this book and its editor on the publisher's website.
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.