Australian Women’s Poetry and Feminism
Summary and Keywords
“Women’s poetry” as a marketing and pedagogic category emerged in the 1970s alongside second-wave feminism. To map the emergence of women’s poetry in and of Australia requires exploring the role of gender in poetic authorship and how the field of Australian poetry has changed in light of feminist movements and theories. Women have used poetry to cross between public and private spheres, to assert an individual and often collective voice, and to critique gender’s intersection with other constitutive identities such as nation and race. While poetry has provided a highly significant means of linguistic transformation and social activism, it has sometimes been viewed as too limiting for feminist writers. Similarly, while the category of “women’s poetry” was strategically empowering in particular periods, it has also been viewed as generating exclusions and marginalization. Feminism has developed both historically and culturally, with the valency of various feminisms in Australia being tested through processes of institutionalization and social change at both a local and global level.
Aboriginal Women’s Song Tradition
While Eurocentric approaches tend to reduce culture to a homogenous system, indigenous cultures are diverse and alert to surrounding ecologies in flux. As Frances Wyld and Bronwyn L. Fredericks point out, song is a “vital part of Indigenous knowing”:
We sing to show our connection to earth, to each other and to ourselves. When we cannot sing, we listen to others who sing for us until our voices return. We sing for the past, for the present and for the next generation.1
Elizabeth Mackinlay notes that songs and dance may be performed in both restricted and unrestricted settings, although it is known publicly when women’s business is occurring.2 British colonization of Australia had a “devastating effect on Aboriginal language and endangered song traditions and the social worlds they support.”3 Intercultural and collaborative studies have sought to address this through recording and repatriating songs, and a National Recording Project was begun in 2005 overseen by Indigenous communities.
Colonial Women’s Poetry
For the British, late-18th- and early-19th-century Australia existed as a space beyond civilization. Ballads of women being sent to the Australian colonies were typically cautionary tales about guarding one’s honor and included “Elizabeth Watson’s Tale” and “Sarah Gale’s Lament.”4 Yet a number of women poets wrote about the journey to Australia as a movement toward agency and equality.5 L.E.L. (Letitia E. Landon), for instance, reworked steward John Nicol’s sentimental 1823 account of an unknown girl aboard the Lady Juliana into an allegory of female authorship in “The Female Convict” (1825). For L.E.L. transportation enables the doomed female speaker to temporarily obtain her voice.6 Frances Browne’s “The Australian Emigrant” similarly views the journey to the Australian colonies as liberating. Although “withered with early thought,” an unidentified girl breaks her silence “and poured the power of her soul in song!”7 She declares that while man may grieve for leaving England, “Why should woman weep her land?” for she has “no portion there.” Indeed, Browne suggests that British women’s homes “are the houses of bondage, still” while Australia may provide “summers bright.”8 Significantly, Browne’s protagonist, like Landon’s, perishes before reaching colonial shores. It therefore remains an imagined utopic space than one materially experienced. A blind Irish woman living in England, Browne championed the culturally dispossessed, publishing “The Australian Emigrant” alongside poems such as “The Removal of the Cherokees.” Her representation of Australia aligns with Robert Southey’s better-known Botany Bay Eclogues (1794) in which the narrative of female convict Elinor views the “savage lands” as offering a base equality between all: “Nature benignly gives to all/enough,/Denies to all a superfluity.”9 While Landon was highly popular, she has been critically dismissed for her sensibility and appropriation.10
By 1840, transportation to the Australian mainland had ceased. Unlike India, Australia was viewed as a place of settlement, with the existing Aboriginal population dismissed offhand or via eugenics discourse as a doomed race. Yet, even though it was still predominantly seen as an extension of empire or a site of exile, it was also seen as a space that could accommodate change. The 19th century was a period of tremendous instability for English culture, with one facet being the growing controversy over women’s social roles. A strongly promoted domestic ideology (involving the theory of “separate spheres” for men and women) came under increasing fire by British liberal thinkers who promoted legal, economic, and political rights for women. The debate over the “Woman Question” was carried out even more intensely in Australia, where there existed a highly segregated division of sexual labor (there would be entire areas of Australian society and geography where few or no white women were present).
In her introduction to A Bright and Fiery Troop: Australian Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (1988), Debra Adelaide suggests that knowledge of women writers of the colonial period is minimal and even more so for women poets: “It is as if no women poets existed until Mary Gilmore; certainly no serious discussion of poetry by women in the nineteenth century has been included in surveys of Australian literature.”11 In memorializing epoch-making events of exploration and the pioneering experience, poets such as Charles Harpur, Henry Kendall, and Adam Linsday sought to foster and give voice to a nascent national consciousness. Women poets were excluded from this self-appointed “shining band” and consigned to a secondary order. Following their Romantic precursors and British contemporaries in Victorian England, Australian women writers were expected to focus on familial or devotional themes reflecting their principal identity as mothers and moral arbiters of society.12 Related to these roles were a presumed natural sympathy for others and a heightened sensibility. In Poetry, Women and Children (1858), Fidelis contends: “If for moral ends, human beings need to be brought under the generous and elevating influences of poetry, women are the most hopeful and available agencies for such a purpose; both in consequence of their superior delicacy of perception, tenderness, and moral sensibility, and because of their power over the young when they themselves are truly imbued with the love of the poetical.”13
Caroline Leakey’s Lyra Australis; or Attempts to Sing in a Strange Land (1854) relates Leakey’s involuntary travel to Australia at the age of twenty to be nursemaid to her sister’s children. Unlike Harpur’s audacity in establishing himself as “Australia’s First Great Poet,” Leakey’s subtitled Attempts to Sing raises doubt over her capacity to assume the role of poet. Yet her faith strengthens her such that “Upon the mystic signs,/The dark handwriting on the wall, thy taper shines,/And I interpret all.”
Eliza Hamilton Dunlop showed far less hesitation, using poetry as a vehicle to have a public voice. Dunlop published “The Aboriginal Mother” (1838) in response to press debates concerning the fate of twelve white stockmen on trial for murdering about thirty Aborigines, many of them women and children, near Myall Creek in northern New South Wales.14 While faithful to the details of newspaper reports, her deployment of first- person narrative and Aboriginal terms shifts the perspective of the massacre to the viewpoint of the one woman said to have escaped. Dunlop saw essential similarities in women across races, noting “ties stronger than death, which bind the heart of woman, be she Christian or savage.”15 Katrina Hansord notes that Dunlop’s poem “should be read not only as an early example of sympathetic engagement with Australian Aboriginals, but as part of an international early feminist discourse.”16
Colonial women poets also began to question the unequal ideological underpinnings of marriage. Subtitled “A Tale of Australia,” “The Shadow of the Past” is a long narrative poem by Emma Anderson that appears in her only volume, Colonial Poems (1869). It tells the story of Helen who, after witnessing her mother’s unhappy marriage and older sister’s suicide (after being jilted), vows not to marry but to devote her life to her younger sister May. Her secluded life in Australia is threatened by the arrival of a stranger, Leonard Gray. Helen declares to Gray:
- Yet even now, I feel I could not be
- A woman like my mother, nor could own
- That God created woman but to live
- The plaything or the menial slave of man;
- Beneath him far in intellectual powers;
- Made to pander to his lowest wants,
- And go, no further,—Surely, other work
- is hers to do,—to share his deepest cares,—
- To sympathize in all his highest schemes—
- To be his closest friend, and yet to look
- To him as still the head. This might I be
- To you but for the past . . .17
While Helen realizes that individual autonomy is not enough to ensure fulfillment, the possibility of a marriage between equals cannot be envisaged, for the husband remains “still the head.” No middle path between married subservience and loneliness seems viable.
Ada Cambridge’s Unspoken Thoughts (1887) was published anonymously in London and then withdrawn five years later. Her reasons for suppressing it may have arisen partly out of the prevalent custom of reading women’s poetry autobiographically and the volume’s explicit protest against sexual injustice, particularly in marriage. Cambridge revised many of the poems substantially for The Hand in the Dark and Other Poems (1913). The tone of this later volume is far less radical. In Unspoken Thoughts, Cambridge’s speaker promotes a personal ethics above established morality. As she writes in “Reaction”:
- Let us defy the vulgar world’s surprise
- Scorn brute convention and soft compromise,
- And bold in proud revolt, and hand in hand,
- Cast in our lost and take our fearless stand
- With the unsafe, improper, and unwise.18
“Fallen” views prostitution as an effect of poverty yet also raises the concept of female sexual desire: “The natural woman in her craved to know/The warmth of passion.”19 Cambridge questions the commodification of marriage and whether the “prosperous matron” who trades her “comely face” for married comfort is not more craven. In “A Wife’s Protest,” she portrays marriage as a cool arrangement between parents and husband and the deleterious impact that romantic ideology may have on a young wife. She suggests a marriage would fare better with equality: “I vowed the vow ‘I will’;/Were I his mate and not his slave/I would perform it still.”20 “An Answer” goes even further by suggesting that there should be partnerships free from external controls:
- But I may some day love a better man,
- And thou may’st find a fitter mate than I;
- Some want, some chill, may steal ‘twixt heart and heart
- And then we must be free to kiss and part.21
By the late 19th century, women writers and artists were establishing support networks. A founding member of the Melbourne-based Austral Salon, Ada Cambridge mentored younger women within the literary scene. More women joined the print culture and earned a living through writing or editing. Editing the suffragist journal the Dawn from 1888 to 1905, Louisa Lawson used poetry to underpin its tenets: “’Woman is not uncompleted man, but diverse,’ says Tennyson, and being diverse why should she not have her journal in which her divergent hopes, aims and opinions may have representation.”22 Like Cambridge, who is better known for her novels, Lawson is primarily known for her journalism. Yet she published “The Lonely Crossing” and Other Poems (1905) in late middle age as a means to put her “house in order.”23 A number of her poems critique oppressive marriages and advocate the need for divorce reform. “A Squatter’s Wife” narrates the discovery by a “beautiful and gifted city girl” that she must share her new husband with his black mistress.24 “Renunciation” is a declaration of autonomy, the speaker electing “henceforth to walk alone.”25
Much of first-wave feminism in Australia argued for women’s equality through the frameworks of evolution and revolution. Motherhood held a key role, its reification underpinning the nation that officially birthed in 1901. In “Song of the Low-Caste Wife,” Anna Wickham depicts the British Empire as a dying race in contrast to the vibrancy of Australian blood:
- But I have conceived of you new men;
- Boys brave from the breast,
- Running and striving like no children of your house
- And with their brave new brains
- Making new myths.26
Marie Pitt celebrates the power of “immutable Motherhood” in “The Recantation.” Published anonymously and claimed by Pitt only much later, the poem concludes that Man has finished strutting his “tinselled and tyrannous hour.”27 In her epigraph, Pitt contends that “the female is the primary or root sex, of which the male is a projection or secondary extension as it were, created by the primary sex primarily in the interests of division of labour and the better service of the race.”28 Emblematized through the mother was female moral strength, a building block for a healthy nation. Mary Gilmore views motherhood as the origin of creative power in her poem “Woman,” declaring that “I/Dreamed man and made him; And the dream, made flesh, begat on me/His dream—made new.”29 Zora Cross’s World War II poem “Australia” foregrounds the blood sacrifice of women to the war effort and views it as a series of masculine errors:
- She and her child, my country, cry not now
- From your dumb dust where the lone death-trees bow.
- They ask no monuments, nor yet upbraid
- Your thousand negligences all man-made.30
Many women poets viewed feminism as integrally bound to socialism and were active in the socialist movement. Marie Pitt blamed capitalism and war for the prostitution of women in “Confiteor” in, “build[ing] temples to strange deities . . . To buy and sell our sisters in the street,/ And beat and beat/ On living hearts a Dead-March down to Hell.”31 Lesbia Harford was unusual in validating forms of female agency under capitalism and moving beyond a sentimental rhetoric:
- I choose the friends who suit me (one I found
- Shut up in jail)—
- Some nuns, some clerks, Anne whose beauty was
- Frankly for sale.
- Of course I cannot see them every day.
- That’s as Fate sends.
- Blind Fate may choose my times for me, but not,
- Oh not, my friends.32
Just as Anne makes the decision to work as a prostitute, Harford chooses her friends in similar fashion. Both will be influenced by circumstances, economic or otherwise, but ultimately make their decision with a degree of autonomy.
Emerging out of the second half of the 19th century, the New Woman insisted on her own social and sexual legitimacy. She undermined the cult of domesticity; although she may be happy to be a mother, she also found value in roles outside the family. She was no longer happy to be simply a muse or angel of the house but desired to speak for herself. Whereas Pitt’s mother tempered her desires, Wickham saw sexuality as extending to and shaping all areas of a woman’s life, including motherhood. Zora Cross’s Songs of Love and Life (1917) proved that women’s poetry could be a popular success, matching the sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay in its overt expression of female sexuality: “Dip down with me into the sea/Of our first passion, and, with naked glee,/Breathe its ripe wonders to our beings’ fill.”33 However, her second collection, The Lilt of Life (1918), with its exploration of female creativity across the ages in “Man and Woman,” found far less of an audience and was even ridiculed.34 Many of her most radical feminist poems, including explorations of same-sex desire, remained unpublished.
Similarly, many of Lesbia Harford’s poems remained unpublished during her lifetime. “Fatherless” celebrated independence from patriarchy:
- I have gone free
- Of manly excellence
- And hold their wisdom
- More than half pretence.
- For since no male
- Has ruled me or has fed
- I think my own thoughts
- In my woman’s head.35
In “Periodicity,” Harford broached the taboo topic of menstruation, viewing it as part of women’s power:
- Women, I say,
- Are beautiful in change,
- Remote, immortal, like the moon they range.36
Although one of Australia’s first female law graduates, she elected to work in menial jobs and often wrote about the everyday world of modern working-class girls. A member of the Industrial Workers of the World and a vocal figure in the trade union movement, her factory poems demonstrate an erotic politics. An example is the pleasure taken in looking at Moira’s red tape measure and how it symbolizes revolution in being “like blood—like a thin blood stream trickling/Like a fire quickening.”37
Cultural attitudes following World War II were conservative and are epitomized in Vincent Buckley’s criticism of Judith Wright:
When she is content to be a woman, enduring the profound incidents of woman’s life, she is able, paradoxically enough, to transcend her womanliness and be a very fine poet. When she attempts to be not a woman, but a bard, commentator or prophet, she becomes a bit of a shrew—which is the worst and most unwomanly of all things that a woman may become.38
Wright’s first collection, The Moving Image (1946), with its expression of female love and creativity, would be praised.39 Many sought to place her within a pastoralist tradition, yet her later rejection of it problematized the reception of her poetry. The supportive network of friendship and mentoring that existed for women poets of the early 20th century evaporated for mid-20th-century writers. As Wright notes:
Trivialisation of life is a real problem for women, dealing so much with what’s regarded as trivial, and trying to find your own value system and live by the values of a serious writer is very difficult when you haven’t got what you might call a support base.40
Wright’s friendship with Oodgeroo is possibly one of the most significant in Australia’s literary history. Reading Oodgeroo’s poetry manuscript at Jacaranda Press, Wright immediately encouraged her to publish what was the first book of poetry by an Aboriginal writer, We Are Going (1964).41 In her turn, Wright listened to Oodgeroo and learned much about Aboriginal culture. She wrote “Two Dreamtimes” for Oodgeroo, which portrays a shared mourning for ecological destruction in Australia:
- If we arc sisters, it's in this—
- our grief for a lost country,
- the place we dreamed in long ago,
- poisoned now and crumbling.42
Oodgeroo’s We Are Going reached mainstream audiences both in Australia and overseas. Her poetry was a key part of her activism for first-nation rights. While most poems depict the connection between her people and the land, she does cover feminist issues. “Dark Unmarried Mothers,” for example, argues that violence toward Aboriginal girls has become “established, accepted, and therefore condoned”:
- Nothing done about it,
- No one to protect them—
- But hush, you mustn’t say so,
- Bad taste or something . . .
- For dark unmarried mothers
- The law does not run.43
While Buckley imposed a gendered division of aesthetics, women writers continued to question its boundaries. Dorothy Auchterlonie explored how women poets could negotiate the traditional gendering of the beloved in “A Problem of Language,” while Gwen Harwood demanded to know its sex in “An Address to My Muse.”44 Accepting that the muse function is the “invention” of men and that she must “earn” her poetic knowledge, Harwood’s poem is filled with a biting vitality.45 This is reinforced by another poem, “A Quartet for Dorothy Hewett,” where Harwood urges fellow poet Dorothy Hewett to “Fill the void with a woman’s voice.”46
Harwood was determined not to be known as a housewife poet, despite having an interrupted career due to caring for four children and working as a medical secretary. Her fictional “beards” of Walter Lehmann and Francis Geyer received far “more invitations to meet editors than Gwen Harwood did.”47 Writing that had not succeeded under her own name was published under theirs, and she cheekily hid the acrostic message, “Fuck all Editors” in a 1961 sonnet sent to the Bulletin under the Lehmann pseudonym. Harwood’s “Mother Who Gave Me Life” acknowledges a maternal tradition, the mother’s voice counterpointing the final line of just three words: “my father’s house.”48 Harwood’s “In the Park” portrays the difficulties of motherhood and ends with the haunting line, “To the wind she says, ‘they have eaten me alive.’”49 Jennifer Strauss notes that this appeared the same year as Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963), which heralded the start of US second-wave feminism.50
Poetic Activism in an Era of Revolutions
The women’s movement emerged in Australia around 1969, around the same time as the sexual liberation movement and a surge in little poetry magazines due to advances in print technology. As Zora Simic suggests, “consciousness-raising and reading and writing were intimately linked.”51 While women contributors remained in the minority and sexual liberation was a far more predominant focus, feminist poetry was appearing in the little magazines. It was largely focused on the body and sought to tell truths about experience. In 1969, Mok featured Margaret Barry’s abortion poem.52 The Great Auk published Margaret Randall’s “Because I Love You This Much I Can Tell You,” which graphically articulated solidarity with Vietnamese women sexually tortured in the war:
- The article ends ‘They didn’t confess you can’t make a revolutionary confess.’
- What I can confess against your legs my sisters pain
While many of Vicki Viidikas’s poems in Condition Red (1973) explored sexual liberation, poems such as “The Obsession. The Voyage” combines an awareness of women’s suffering elsewhere (“A Vietnamese girl with her breasts ripped off”) with anxieties over one’s own bodily existence (“In here groping around for meanings, trying on faces thinking, which one shall I wear?”).54 A contemporaneous collection, Judith Rodriguez’s NuPlastic Fanfare Red (1973), reveled in newfound feminist daring and energy.55 Its title poem (which is similar to Viidikas in signaling the red of danger and vitality) rejects the modesty associated with domestic ideology to paint a room red. The room finds correspondences between the woman’s body, the room, the country, and the poem.
Diane Brown and Susan Hawthorne point out that feminist printing and publishing co-operatives were not established until the second half of the 1970s, with the earliest being Sugar and Snails (which originally began as the Non-Sexist Children’s Book Collective in 1974) and Sybylla Co-operative Press in 1976.56 Magazines such as Luna also began through a women’s collective in 1975, and Stefanie Bennett’s two publishing ventures, Khasmik and Cochon, were strongly feminist in orientation. The burgeoning feminist movement with its promotion of woman-identified cultural production would provide strong support and be supported by lesbian poets. Poets Lee Cataldi, Joanne Burns, and Anna Couani founded the Sydney Writers workshop in 1978, which provided an alternative space where the act of writing itself was a political and communal tool. The related No Regrets Cooperative would result in three anthologies between 1979 and 1985.
Anthologies played a key part as a separate space or vision for women. International Women’s Year, 1975, saw the publication of Australia’s first feminist poetry anthology, Mother, I’m Rooted.57 Unlike feminist poetry anthologies emerging elsewhere in 1973 (No More Masks, Rising Tides, and The World Split Open), it provided a synchronic rather than diachronic mapping.58 Its editor, Kate Jennings, sought poems that articulated an “authentic” female experience for its three hundred contributions. The anthology covered female experiences hitherto under-represented or invisible: birth, motherhood, sexual violence, menstruation, housework, same-sex relationships, and social conditioning. While voices from second-generation postwar European women can be heard, there is a striking absence of Aboriginal or Asian voices (although they would also be absent from little magazines and presses). Selling over 10,000 copies and reaching a broad audience, Mother, I’m Rooted demonstrated that both women’s poetry and feminist content could be popular.
Questioning Dominant Cultural Narratives
Indeed, the subsequent decade of the 1980s became known as “the Woman’s Decade.” The anger that underscored poems of the 1970s culminates in Gig Ryan’s “If I Had a Gun” (1980), yet it also demonstrates an understanding of how women themselves are interpellated in a patriarchal order. The poem, which has since become “a feminist anthem,” demonstrates through serial example how women are regularly exposed to objectification and diminution.59 Ryan questions men’s need for confirmation and the cultural conditioning of women to think of themselves as secondary in lines such as “who says Was that good like a menu” or “who says Baby you can really drive like it’s so complicated.”60 Ryan is critical of a continual female weakness: “Women are full of compassion and have soft soggy hearts/you can throw up in and no-one’ll notice / and they won’t complain” and commands an active stop to such treatment: “I’d shoot the man who can’t look after himself / who comes to me for wisdom who’s witty with his mates about heavy things / that wouldn’t interest you.”61 The violence and repetition of its opening phrase, “If I had a gun,” highlights the pervasiveness of female subjugation and slides between satire and guerrilla tactics in line with Valerie Solanas’s S.C.U.M. Manifesto.
Another of Ryan’s poem, “Not Like a Wife,” foregrounds the speaker’s inability to rehearse forms of feminine value, particularly in terms of appearance and domesticity. It culminates in the final lines:
- The sink’s blocked in Darlinghurst.
- I never could eat spaghetti effectively,
- too unmarried or something.62
A distinctive element of some Australian feminist poetry is its often understated sense of humor. This can be found in the work of Gig Ryan and also in Joanne Burns, who reworks literary tradition into one of democratic equivalence in “Revisionism”:
- henry lawson in a holden commodore
- silas marner in a Mercedes
- gertrude stein as a taxi driver
- jane austen in a panel van.63
As in the United States, many women poets turned to myth as a means to explore a “subterranean current below the surface structure of male-oriented language.”64 The deconstruction and revision of myths would be spearheaded by Adrienne Rich, who notes having to carry the “book of myths . . . in which/our names do not appear” in “Diving into the Wreck” (1973).65 While earlier poets had invoked myth, sometimes substantially (as in the case of Zora Cross and Dulcie Deamer), late-20th-century poets channeled them for more radical articulations of female sensuality, cultural containment, and trauma. Dorothy Hewett reworks dominant cultural narratives of femininity from Rapunzel in Suburbia (1975) onward, noting how they often signaled confinement or death.66 Diane Fahey’s Metamorphoses (1988) focused on female figures in Greek myth as Fahey became increasingly aware of how myths were shaped by power. She felt that they provided a means to explore difficult areas of her own experience as a woman “while connecting with the great collective movement to do with the owning, voicing and redressing of damage to women in the patriarchal order.”67 Poems such as “Philomela” and “On Not Looking Back” give a voice back to victim-selves such as Philomela and Eurydice. Oher examples include Kate Llewellyn’s “Eve” (1983): “they say the snake tempted her to it/don’t believe it/she bit because she hungered/to know/the clever thing/she wasn’t kicked out/she walked out” and Fay Zwicky’s “Ark Voices”(1982) in which Mrs. Noah speaks reflectively in counterpoint to her husband’s acts.68
Poets such as Hewett began to explore how there was no single fixed “I.” She discerned in 1979, “I can’t write autobiography because there is no me/Me is not a stable reality/the collective/Me in the changing world no propped up statue.” In Alice in Wormland (1987), she subverts the expectations that women write autobiographically. Alluding to Lewis Carroll’s classic, which focuses on the world of fantasy, Alice in Wormland explores the difficulty of obtaining creativity, the uneasiness in being both a woman and a poet, and the need to be “double visioned.”69
Further Feminisms, Institutionalization, and Dismantling the Machinery
From the mid-1980s, feminist studies, “women’s writing” and “women’s poetry” were becoming institutionalized in Australia through anthologies, critical studies, journals (most notably Hecate), academic courses, and prize culture. Following Audre Lorde and Alice Jardine’s problematization of the category of “woman,” feminist writing began focusing on differences between and among women.70 In women’s poetry, there occurred a slow diversification. Lisa Bellear described the feminist movement as “the gubba middle class/ hetero sexual revolution” that “can’t relate” to the struggle for Aboriginal rights. While angry about its self-centredness, she notes that “it’s not just a women’s liberation that will free us/ it’s a beginning.”71 Polish migrant Ania Walwicz foregrounds intersections between racist and sexist ideologies, as well as the contradictions of Australian masculinity in her prose poem “Australia.” Playing on the grammatical slips of inhabiting a new language, Walwicz discerns:
Idiot centre of your own self. You think the rest of the world walks around without shoes or electric light. You don’t go anywhere. You stay at home. You like one another. You go crazy on Saturday night. You get drunk. You don’t like me and you don’t like women. You put your arm around men in bars. You’re rough. I can’t speak to you. You burly burly. You’re just silly to me. You big man.72
Both Walwicz and Anna Couani demonstrate a sense of being between cultures and experiments with prose-poetry as a form that can subvert literary forms, traditions, and constraints. A number of feminist poets resisted placing their work in the tradition of poetry, preferring to characterize their work as experimental writing or turning to other hybrid forms such as ficto-criticism. Many turned to cross-media collaborations. Hazel Smith explores cross-cultural encounters through bringing together different genres and media. “Secret Places,” a collaboration between Smith, Sieglinde Karl, Ron Nagorcka, and Kate Hamilton extends the trajectory of feminist mythmaking by focusing on a casuarina woman. It alludes to the discovery and treatment of a Siberian icemaiden, a woman survivor of the Holocaust, and the collective indigenous project by the Yuendumu community in Australia: “This is a story of places and peoples but also the intertwining of spindles. Blinding to see, wounding as weaving.”73 With spectral references to past European texts and theorists, the work destabilizes any central “I” and focuses on processes of cultural memory and survival.
Genre crossings sometimes reflected thematic explorations of what it could mean to break the law. Jordie Albiston’s long poem The Hanging of Jean Lee (1998) recuperates a lost figure from Australian history in its focus on the last woman to be hanged in Australia.74 It is also an early example of documentary feminist poetics in Australia. Dorothy Porter merged the verse novel with crime fiction in The Monkey’s Mask (1994) to highlight the danger of transgressive sexuality and society’s need to regulate it. In it she highlights the dangerous materiality of the female body:
- in the glands of my breast
- I'm violent
- in the shield of my cervix
- I'm violent
- in my feral womb
- I'm violent
- fear me fear me fear me
- I'm female.75
The Monkey’s Mask was a commercial and international success, undoing divisions between mainstream and margin for poetry.
Poetry as a form of witness would be complicated by newly translated French feminist theory that began to reach Australian shores around the same time as it did in the United States, that is, “around 1981.” Such theory argued that women’s experience was constituted in language rather than merely reflected by it and that language was not transparent but always already embedded in cultural meaning. Collectives such as the Generic Ghosts (which included poets Pam Brown, Amanda Stewart, Jan McKemmish, and Carol Christie) extended poetry into feminist performance and deployed strategies of détournement. There was a focus on fragmentation of voice and splicing of media and quotations. The collective demonstrated how the everyday world of women was connected to a larger global politics shaped by late capitalism and ongoing wars. The work of Jennifer Maiden would also ventriloquize local and international political leaders, sometimes bringing together historically disparate figures, in order to rehearse moral quandaries, limits, and exhaustion. Gig Ryan notes that Maiden often uses feminine imagery but shapes it into subtle feminist protest.76
Passing the Post: Contemporary Worlds
In light of poststructural feminist theory, a number of poets began to self-consciously perform and critique the cultural conventions surrounding gender and sexuality. Kate Lilley’s Ladylike (2012) is informed by Judith Butler’s theory that gender is citational and by Lauren Berlant’s reconceptualization of women’s engagement with intimacy, sentimentality, and popular culture. Lilley critiques the alignment of femininity with appearance and the difficulty of not measuring up to cultural ideals. As she writes in “Sprechstimme,” “Beauty was never my friend./Our birthdays were a year apart.”77 Lilley also explores the masquerade of femininity across the ages and cultural anxieties surrounding the potential for duplicity or craftiness. In a quite different vein, Jessica L. Wilkinson’s Marionette: A Biography of Miss Marion Davies draws attention to an instance of feminine performance, focusing a long poem on the forgotten star of early Hollywood silent films and mistress of tycoon W. R. Hearst.78 As with the work of American Susan Howe, Wilkinson uses techniques of typographical shadowing, fragmentation, cut-ups, and collage to draw attention to unreadability and the incomplete subject. Jill Jones’s “Less Loose Looks” considers the self-conscious looking of a self that is looked at but explodes the constraints of the gaze.79 In her poem, things that we think of as objects (women, trees, lamps, and roundabouts) all take up the power of looking, and Jones turns to other sensory forms of engagement such as taste. Sarah Holland-Batt contrasts the reduction of women to objects of male artistic study with their imagined interior life in ekphrastic poems like “After Ingres” and “Reclining Nude.”80 While Maria Takolander critiques framings of creative woman as monstrous or alien in poems like “Mary Shelley,” Fiona Hile’s poetry explores the ramifications of philosophical and poetic constructions of the feminine.81 In “Courtly Love,” she writes, “Throwing a shoe/whilst unsocking the Woman constitutes an infinite/number of men in the shape of punctuation,/tends to make the negation shift.”82
Tracy Ryan views her writing as “inextricably bound up with my feminism.” Her poetry tries to “find ways in which language may be interrupted, disrupted, and rejiggered for feminist purposes.”83 In Hothouse (2002), Ryan explores a queer poetics where there may be “two opposites true / at once.”84 Just as Hothouse questions limiting labels of human design, Ryan’s more recent Hoard explores the intersections between nature and feminist interpretation:
- If I write the bog as/the Poor Old Woman
- or even the Rich Old Woman/treated poorly
- am I not complicit in a history
- of dangerous conflations
- is the earth our mother
- is it beyond gender.85
It is an example of a growing intersection between feminist poetry and ecopoetics. Early ecopoetic feminist writers include Judith Wright and Jennifer Rankin, Wright seeing intersections between Aboriginal understandings of country and environmental rights while Rankin explored a porous subjectivity that is open to and dialogic with her environment. In different ways, Susan Hawthorne, Anne Elvey, Bonny Cassidy, and Claire Nashar have explored modes of human and nonhuman connectivity while often foregrounding how gender informs an interaction with place.
Aboriginal feminist poetry focuses attention on a dynamic interrelationship between self and land as well as building forms of resilience and repair. Much of Ali Cobby Eckermann’s work concerns her exploration of and commitment to Aboriginal identity as a member of the Stolen Generation but also what it means to write out of trauma and loss. In “Inside My Mother,” Eckermann discerns an ancestral maternal line that includes country and that is expressed through “syllables” that “loud and guttural spill/over the sand.”86 In a different way, Romaine Moreton foregrounds country as maternal figure but also as part of her own body in “Blak Beauty.” Her refrain “This is my earth/she’s the colour of/blak” generates a sense of growing ritual empowerment but also draws attention to how Aboriginal sovereignty is mediated through body and earth.87 Other poems by Moreton (such as “Mr Slave Mentality”) foreground differences between Aboriginal peoples.88 Both Jeanine Leane and Natalie Harkin reconceptualize the archive and modes of knowing Country. In Dirty Words, Harkin focuses not only on her own maternal genealogies but also transnational First Nation feminist activism.89 She also participates in the indigenous feminist performance group Unbound Collective and extends her poetry beyond the page to installations. Ellen Van Neerven also explores the contemporary bonds of family and country in Comfort Food, their sustenance countering loneliness and hunger.90 For Alison Whittaker, indigenous and queer activism requires bold linguistic experimentation. A number of Aboriginal poets acknowledge the importance of American poets such as Audre Lorde in articulating a feminist activism in response to racialized oppression. While Aboriginal women’s poetry is receiving more attention than ever before, Bronwyn Fredericks cautions against feminists “accommodating” the cultural expression of Aboriginal women rather than engaging with their opinions. She adds that the positioning of Aboriginal women “continues to be an everyday struggle even within feminism.”91
As Mother I’m Rooted acted as a feminist antidote to male-dominated anthologies back in the 1970s, Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (2013) draws attention to voices still marginalized in the poetry industry. Poets such as Debbie Lim foreground how gendered oppression is culturally instilled, her “How to Grow Feet of Golden Lotus” detailing the price paid by girls who endure footbinding.92
The late 1990s and the new millennium saw the emergence of third-wave feminism that, according to Arielle Greenberg, pushes “for more complex questioning of how issues such as ability, class, race, age and sexuality intersect with gender in the patriarchy.”93 In light of social media and challenging the dominance of a nurturing feminine, Meredi Ortega’s “Cyborg Me” starts with the confronting line “first thing I’d hack would be my womb.”94 It imagines scrolling LED messages on her forehead that preempt and avoid unwanted exchange. The speaker of Melinda Bufton’s “Snooks” states: “I have more in common with that/ blogger girl in Williamsburg than I do with my kin/ the people I was born into.”95 Her reconceptualization of the girl finds resonance with the work of Cassandra Atherton, Elizabeth Allen, and Emily Stewart. Such third-wave feminist poetry is playfully knowing and often deploys ironic and parodic modes.
Performance poet Emily Zooey Baker’s “Fannyism” is less rigid than second-wave feminism but articulates a battle cry for the future: “We gotta get angry, we gotta get busy,/because the next potentially bulimic, anorexic, suicidal generations depend on it./It’s okay to wear a bra,/ it’s okay to have long beautiful hair/and it doesn’t have to be on your legs.”96 Influenced by materialist feminism and highly experimental in its visual and text collage, Elena Gomez’s poetry nevertheless links with Baker’s in its call to shared action:
- love is not the private matter it might mean to be at first glance
- if you could forget, just for a moment, that you believe in gender, restore the common area of your teeth, not with your heart, the beast heart is ruthless, like how we must be, what
- revolution was carefully thought out and when did women speak quietly to positive effect, it cannot be as it once was. keepers of knowledge, not locked.97
Net poet Mez Breeze has developed a creolized, polysemic language known as mezangelle, which combines electronic code and “natural” human language. Her work often calls upon online environments, and she uses multiple avatars. Sally Evans notes that Mez constructs an ever-changing assemblage that both references material states of being and explodes gendered binarisms.98
While many continue to develop conceptually innovative forms, there has also been the return to traditional forms such as the sonnet, sestina, cento, pantoum, and villanelle. Writers such as Emma Lew, Claire Gaskin, Kate Fagan, and L.K. Holt, to name but a few, correlate formal constraints and traditions with social ones surrounding gender and sexuality. Through processes of reiteration, defamiliarization, and renovation, they track the limitations of asserting a voice alongside modes of resistance. As with many postcolonial poets, Merlinda Bobis has turned to the epic as a renewable form that may provide a mode for relaying oppositional communal values and a means to depict different forms of time. The pluralization of the dedication “To my Mothers” of Cantata of the Warrior Woman Daragang Magayon (1997) is reflected in its untranslated bilingual form (English and Tagalog/Filapino).99 As Lucy Van notes, Bobis acknowledges the complexity of her positioning not only in the Western tradition but also of “women within the political history of pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial Phillipines.”100 Many poets also continue to work in the lyric tradition, continuing to expand on feminist themes surrounding motherhood, sexual violence, inequality, misogyny, labor, desire, the body, influence and authorship, and cultural intersectionality.
Bonny Cassidy and Jessica Wilkinson’s Contemporary Feminist Australian Poetry (2016) was the first Australian anthology to include male contributors, thus undoing the conflation that often occurs between “women’s poetry” and feminism.101 While anthologies have tended to focus on single-author contributions, their anthology signals the importance of sharing the creative process in feminist poetry (as found in performance collectives such as Generic Ghosts and the Unbound Collective) by including a number of collaborations.
Cassidy and Wilkinson acknowledge the difficulty of adequately representing diversity, noting in particular the dearth of voices with limited English literacy, recent migrants with limited literary connections, expatriate Australians, and those in detention.102 In her introduction to Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (2013), Michelle Cahill refers to the double marginalization still experienced by Asian Australian woman poets. More positively, Jill Jones focuses on the history of lesbian poetry in her introduction to Out of the Box: Gay and Lesbian Poets (2009).103 Such editorial decisions reinforce the significance and specificity surrounding gender and sexuality in poetic production. These recent anthologies suggest that the map of Australian poetry is still being reenvisioned and debated. Feminism must constantly be vigilant in analyzing the processes of institutionalization. While feminist poetries occur through many modes (performance, lyric, conceptual, experimental, documentary, and digital), there remains voices that are absent and areas requiring more attention. These include but are not limited to disability, transgender, and transculturalism. Given feminism’s activist charge, as well as poetry’s attention to how language attends to the Other, it is hoped that feminist poetries will continue to transform our understanding of our environments, communities, and selves.
Discussion of the Literature
Anthologies are an important checkpoint in considering the valency of “women’s poetry” or “feminist poetry” in Australia. While a number focus specifically on poetry (Mother I’m Rooted: An Anthology of Australian Women Poets , The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets , The Oxford Book of Australian Women’s Verse , Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry , and Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry ), others focus on the broader category of “women’s writing” or “feminist writers” (Telling Ways: Australian Women’s Experimental Writing  and Moments of Desire: Sex and Sensuality by Australian Feminist Writers ).104 A feature on Australian poetry, “New Writings from Australia,” was published in the international journal on women’s writing and scholarship HOW2 (2001) with additional working notes.105
Australian feminist scholarship has tended to focus on the category of “women’s poetry” and “women’s writing.” Work that has focused on 19th-century women’s poetry includes A Bright and Fiery Troop: Australian Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (1988), “A ‘Lonely Crossing’: Approaching Nineteenth-Century Australian Women’s Poetry” (2002), and “Spirit-Music Unbound: Romanticism and Print Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry 1830–1905” (2012).106 Historical surveys that include the early to mid-20th century are Stressing the Modern: Cultural Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry (2007), “The Social Tradition in Australian Women’s Poetry” (1998), and Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark (2011).107
There are two landmark volumes that explored the relationship between contemporary “women’s poetry” and feminism: Poetry and Gender: Statements and Essays in Australian Women’s Poetry and Poetics (1989) and Bridgings: Reading in Australian Women’s Poetry (1996).108 Significantly both combined essays and poetry, with the former also including short interviews. Jenny Digby’s A Woman’s Voice: Conversations with Australian Poets (1996) in some respects expands and supplements Bridgings by offering a series of interviews.109 Jamming the Machinery: Contemporary Australian Women’s Writing (1998) includes poetry in its scope, and more recently Text published a special issue, “Mud Map: Australian Women’s Experimental Writing” (2013).110 A survey of the impact of second-wave feminism on Australian poetry is “The Rise of ‘Women’s Poetry’ in the 1970s: An Initial Survey into New Australian Poetry, the Women’s Movement, and a Matrix of Revolutions” (2007).111 Studies of poetic engagement with myth and the sacred include “Paradise and Australian Women Poets” (1988) and Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions (2001).112 Introductions to Aboriginal women’s poetry can be found through BlackWords via the AustLit database, The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature (2008), and Giving the Country a Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia (2015).113
While there are numerous sole-author studies (most notably on Wright, Harwood, and Hewett), comparative studies include Jennifer Strauss “The Poetry of Dobson, Harwood and Wright: ‘Within the Bounds of Feminine Sensibility’”(1979), Vanishing Edens: Response to Australia in the Works of Mary Gilmore, Judith Wright, and Dorothy Hewett (1992), and “‘Me Is Not a Stable Reality’: Negotiations of Identity in the Poetry of Dorothy Auchterlone, Rosemary Dobson, Dorothy Hewett, and J.S. Harry.”114 “A Matter of Poetry: Why and How Does Poetry Matter” is a forum discussion between seven women poets.115 Kate Lilley analyzes issues surrounding anthologization in “Between Anthologies: Feminism and Genealogies of Australian Women’s Poetry,” and Cassandra Atherton discusses the difficulties of institutional careers in “Poetic Boundary Conditions: Australian Poets in the Ivory Tower.”116
Adelaide, Debra, ed. A Bright and Fiery Troop: Australian Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century. Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1988.Find this resource:
Brooks, David, and Brenda Walker, eds. Poetry and Gender: Statements and Essays in Australian Women’s Poetry and Poetics. St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1989.Find this resource:
Cassidy, Bonny, and Jessica L. Wilkinson, eds. Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry. St. Lucia, Australia: Hunter, 2016.Find this resource:
Hampton, Susan, and Kate Llewellyn, eds. The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets. Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1986.Find this resource:
Lever, Susan. “The Social Tradition in Australian Women’s Poetry.” Women’s Writing 5, no. 2 (1998): 229–239.Find this resource:
Lilley, Kate. “Between Anthologies: Feminism and Genealogies of Australian Women’s Poetry.” Australian Feminist Studies 12, no. 26 (1997): 265–273.Find this resource:
Lucas, Rose, and Lyn McCredden. Bridgings: Readings in Australian Women’s Poetry. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press, 1996.Find this resource:
Strauss, Jennifer. “The Poetry of Dobson, Harwood, and Wright: ‘Within the Bounds of Feminine Sensibility?’” Meanjin 38, no. 3 (1979): 334–349.Find this resource:
Vickery, Ann. “A ‘Lonely Crossing’: Nineteenth-Century Australian Women’s Poetry.” Victorian Poetry 40, no. 1 (2002): 33–54.Find this resource:
Vickery, Ann. Stressing the Modern: Cultural Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry. Cambridge, UK: Salt, 2007.Find this resource:
Vickery, Ann. “The Rise of ‘Women’s Poetry’ in the 1970s: An Initial Survey into New Australian Poetry, the Women’s Movement, and a Matrix of Revolutions.” Australian Feminist Studies 22, no. 53 (2007): 265–285.Find this resource:
(1.) Frances Wyld and Bronwyn L. Fredericks, “Earth Song as Storywork: Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledges,” Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues 18.2 (2015): 1–2.
(2.) Elizabeth Mackinlay, “The Personal Is Political Is Musical: Reflections on Women’s Music Making in the Yanyuwa Aboriginal Community at Borroloola, Northern Territory,” in Aesthetics and Experience in Music Performance, eds. Elizabeth Mackinlay, Samantha Owens, and Dennis Collins (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2005).
(3.) Sally Treloyn, “Approaching an Epistemic Community of Applied Ethnomusicology in Australia: Intercultural Research on Australian Aboriginal Song,” Collegium (2016): 25.
(4.) Ron Edwards, The Convict Maid: Authentic Reproductions of Broadside Ballads Relating to Australia’s Early Days (Kuranda, Australia: Rams Skull, 1988).
(5.) For a more extended discussion, see Ann Vickery, “Feminine Transports and Transformations: Textual Performances of Australian Women Convicts and Emigrants from 1788 to 1850,” JASAL 7 (2007): 71–84.
(6.) L.E.L. (Letitica Elizabeth Landon), “The Female Convict,” The Improvisatrice and Other Poems (London: Hurst, Robinson, 1824).
(7.) Frances Browne, The Star of Attéghéi: The Vision of Schwartz and Other Poems (London: Edward Moxon, 1844), 235, 236.
(8.) Browne, The Star of Attéghéi, 237.
(9.) Robert Southey, Poems (London: Joseph Cottle, 1897), 81.
(10.) Daniel Riess argues that Landon produces a “second-order, synthesised Romanticism” while Herbert Tucker views her as “domesticating the exotic.” See Daniel Riess, “Laetitia Landon and the Dawn of English Post-Romanticism,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 36, no. 4 (1996): 807–827; and Herbert Tucker, “House Arrest: The Domestication of English Poetry in the 1820s,” New Literary History 25, no. 3 (1994): 521–548.
(11.) Debra Adelaide, “A Tradition of Women: Introduction,” A Bright and Fiery Troop: Australian Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1988), 3.
(12.) For further discussion of 19th-century Australian women’s poetry, see Ann Vickery, “A ‘Lonely Crossing’: Nineteenth-Century Australian Women’s Poetry,” Victorian Poetry 40, no. 1 (2002): 33–54.
(13.) Fidelis, Poetry, Women and Children (London: Judd and Glass, 1858).
(14.) Eliza Dunlop, The Aboriginal Mother and Other Poems (Canberra, Australia: Mulini, 1981).
(15.) Eliza Dunlop, letter, “The Aboriginal Mother,” Sydney Herald, November 2, 1841, 2.
(16.) Katrina Hansord. “‘Spirit-Music’ Unbound: Romanticism and Print Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry 1830–1905” (PhD diss., Deakin University, 2013).
(17.) Emma Francis Anderson, Colonial Poems (London, E. Marlborough, 1869).
(18.) Ada Cambridge, Unspoken Thoughts (London, 1887); reprinted Campbell (ACT: English Department, Australian Defence Force Academy, 1988), 133.
(19.) Cambridge, Unspoken Thoughts, 94.
(20.) Cambridge, Unspoken Thoughts, 99.
(21.) Cambridge, Unspoken Thoughts, 142.
(22.) Louisa Lawson, “About Ourselves,” Dawn (May 15, 1888): 1. Lawson’s writings in the Dawn are collected in The First Voice of Australian Feminism: Excerpts from Louisa Lawson’s The Dawn 1888–1895, ed. Olive Lawson (Brookvale, NSW: Simon & Schuster in association with New Endeavour Press, 1990).
(23.) Louisa Lawson, “The Lonely Crossing” and Other Poems (Sydney: The Dawn, 1905).
(24.) Lawson, “The Lonely Crossing,” 39.
(25.) Lawson, “The Lonely Crossing,” 54.
(26.) Anna Wickham, The Writings of Anna Wickham: Free Woman and Poet, ed. R.D. Smith (London: Virago, 1984), 165.
(27.) Marie E. J. Pitt, “The Renunciation,” The Poems of Marie E.J. Pitt (Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton, 2006), 135, 136.
(28.) Pitt, “The Renunciation,” 135.
(29.) Mary Gilmore, “Woman,” Birth 2, no. 1 (1917): 2.
(30.) Zora Cross, “Australia,” Cross Papers, Box 15, Fisher Library.
(31.) Marie E. J. Pitt, “Confiteor,” The Poems of Marie E.J. Pitt (Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton, 2006), 32.
(32.) Lesbia Harford, Collected Poems, ed. Oliver Dennis (Crawley, Australia: University of Western Australia Press, 2014), 108.
(33.) Zora Cross, Songs of Love and Life (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1917), 21.
(34.) Zora Cross, The Lilt of Life (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1918).
(35.) Harford, Collected Poems, 48.
(36.) Harford, Collected Poems, 56.
(37.) Harford, Collected Poems, 89.
(38.) Quoted in Judith Wright, “Transcending Womanliness,” in Poetry and Gender: Statements and Essays in Australian Women’s Poetry and Poetics, eds. David Brooks and Brenda Walker (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1989), 70.
(39.) Judith Wright, The Moving Image (Melbourne: Meanjin, 1946).
(40.) Judith Wright, letter to Clem Christesen, Meanjin Archive, Melbourne University Library Special Collections, Wright file, March 13, 1947.
(41.) Oodgeroo Noonuccal, We Are Going (Brisbane: Jacaranda, 1964).
(42.) Judith Wright, quoted in Jennifer Jones, “Why Weren’t We Listening? Oodgeroo and Judith Wright,” Overland 171 (2003): 44–49.
(43.) Oodgeroo Noonuccal, The Dawn Is at Hand (Brisbane: Jacaranda, 1966), 16.
(44.) Dorothy Auchterlonie, “A Problem of Language,” Meanjin Quarterly 25, no. 2 (1966): 170; and Gwen Harwood, “An Address to My Muse,” Collected Poems: 1943–1995, eds. Alison Hoddinott and Gregory Kratzmann (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 2003).
(45.) Auchterlonie, “A Problem of Language,” 292.
(46.) Auchterlonie, “A Problem of Language,” 324.
(47.) Elizabeth Lawson, “‘They Trust Me with the Axe’: The Poetry of Gwen Harwood,” in Poetry and Gender, 162.
(48.) Lawson, “‘They Trust Me with the Axe,’” 362.
(49.) Lawson, “‘They Trust Me with the Axe,’” 65.
(50.) Jennifer Strauss, “The Poetry of Dobson, Harwood and Wright: ‘Within the Bounds of Feminine Sensibility?’” Meanjin 38, no. 3 (1979): 340–349.
(51.) Zora Simic, “Women’s Writing and ‘Feminism’: A History of Intimacy and Estrangement,” Outskirts Online Journal 28 (2013).
(52.) Margaret Barry, Untitled, Mok 5 (1969).
(53.) Margaret Randall, “Because I Love You This Much I Can Tell You,” Greak Auk 9 (1969).
(54.) Vicki Viidikas, “The Obsession. The Voyage,” Condition Red (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1973).
(55.) Judith Rodriguez, NuPlastic Fanfare Red (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1973).
(56.) Diane Brown and Susan Hawthorne, “Feminist Publishing,” in Paper Empires: A History of the Book in Australia 1946–2005, eds. Craig Munro and Robyn Sheahan-Bright (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 2006).
(57.) Kate Jennings, Mother, I’m Rooted: An Anthology of Australian Women Poets (Melbourne: Outback, 1975).
(58.) See Louise Bernikow, ed. The World Split Open: Four Centuries of American Poets in England and America, 1552–1950 (New York: Vintage, 1973); Laura Chester, Laura Barba, and Sharon Barba, eds., Rising Tides: Twentieth-Century American Women Poets (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973); and Florence Howe and Ellen Bass, eds., No More Masks! An Anthology of Poetry by Women (Garden City, NY: Anchor, 1973).
(60.) Gig Ryan, New and Selected Poems (Artarmon, Australia: Giramondo, 2011), 22, 23.
(61.) Ryan, New and Selected Poems, 22, 23.
(62.) Ryan, New and Selected Poems, 13.
(63.) Joanne Burns, “Revisionism,” On a Clear Day (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1992), 31.
(64.) Alicia Ostriker, “The Thieves of Language: Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking,” Signs 8, no. 1 (1982): 69.
(66.) Dorothy Hewett, Rapunzel in Suburbia (Sydney: Prism, 1975).
(67.) Diane Fahey, Metamorphoses (Sydney: Dangaroo), 1988.
(68.) Kate Llewellyn, “Eve,” The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, eds. Susan Hampton and Kate Llewellyn (Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1986), 160; and Fay Zwicky, “Ark Voices,” The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, 120.
(69.) Dorothy Hewett, Collected Poems, ed. William Grono (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1995).
(70.) Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Berkeley, CA: Crossing, 1984), 114–123; and Alice Jardine, Gynesis: Woman and Modernity (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985).
(71.) Lisa Bellear, “Women’s Liberation,” Hecate 17, no. 2 (1991): 204–205.
(72.) Ania Walwicz, “Australia,” The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, 231.
(73.) Hazel Smith, “Secret Places,” Keys Round Her Tongue (Woolooware, Australia: Soma, 2000), 20–25.
(74.) Jordie Albiston, The Hanging of Jean Lee (North Fitzroy, Australia: Black Pepper, 1998).
(75.) Dorothy Porter, The Monkey’s Mask (South Melbourne: Hyland House, 1994), 167.
(77.) Kate Lilley. Ladylike (Crawley, Australia: University of Western Australia Press, 2012), 5.
(78.) Jessica L. Wilkinson, Marionette: A Biography of Miss Marion Davies (Glebe, Australia: Vagabond, 2012).
(79.) Jill Jones, “Let Loose Looks,” in Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry, eds. Bonny Cassidy and Jessica L. Wilkinson (St. Lucia, Australia: Hunter, 2016), 39–40.
(80.) Sarah Holland-Batt, “After Ingres” and “Reclining Nude,” The Hazards (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland, 2015), 60–61, 64–65.
(81.) Maria Takolander, “Misogyny,” Ghostly Subjects (Cambridge, UK: Salt, 2009), 59–60.
(82.) Jones, “Let Loose Looks,” 61.
(84.) Tracy Ryan, Hothouse (Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre, 2002), 47.
(85.) Tracy Ryan, “Rhetorical,” Hoard (Geelong, Australia: Whitmore, 2015), 34.
(86.) Ali Cobby Eckermann, “Inside My Mother,” in Active Aesthetics: Contemporary Australian Poetry, eds. Daniel Benjamin and Claire Marie Stancek (Berkeley, CA: Tuumba, 2016), 55.
(87.) Romaine Moreton, “Blak Beauty,” Post Me to the Prime Minister (Alice Springs, Australia: Jukurrpa, 2004), 93–98.
(88.) Romaine Moreton, “Mr Slave Mentality,” in Rimfire: Poetry from Aboriginal Australia, eds. Romaine Moreton, Alf Taylor, and Michael J. Smith (Broome, Australia: Magabala, 2000), 5–6.
(89.) Natalie Harkin, Dirty Words (Melbourne: Cordite, 2015).
(90.) Ellen Van Neerven. Comfort Food (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2016).
(91.) Bronwyn Fredericks, “Reempowering Ourselves: Australian Aboriginal Women,” Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society 25, no. 3 (2010): 546–550.
(92.) Debbie Lim, “How to Grow Feet of Golden Lotus,” in Contemporary Asian Australian Poets, eds. Adam Aitken, Kim Cheng Boey, and Michelle Cahill (Glebe, Australia: Puncher and Wattman, 2013), 140–142.
(93.) Arielle Greenberg, “Feminist Poetics, in Waves,” American Poetry Review 42, no. 5 (2013), 15.
(94.) Meredi Ortega, “Cyborg Me,” Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry, 35.
(95.) Melinda Bufton, Girlery (Hobart, Australia: Inken Publisch, 2014), 24.
(97.) Elena Gomez, “Bunny,” Active Aesthetics: Contemporary Australian Poetry, 85.
(98.) Sally Evans, “The Anti-Logos Weapon: Excesses of Meaning and Subjectivity in Mezangelle Poetry,” Cordite Poetry Review (2011).
(99.) Merlinda Bobis, Cantata of the Warrior Woman Daragang Magayon: An Epic (Manila: Babaylan Women’s Publishing Collective, 1993).
(100.) Lucy K. Van, “Postcolonial Poetry: Global Epic Culture” (PhD diss., University of Melbourne, 2011), 184.
(101.) Bonny Cassidy and Jessica L. Wilkinson, eds., Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (St. Lucia, Australia: Hunter, 2016).
(102.) Cassidy and Wilkinson, Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry, xix.
(103.) Michael Farrell and Jill Jones, eds., Out of the Box: Gay and Lesbian Poets (Glebe, Australia: Puncher and Wattmann, 2009).
(104.) Kate Jennings, Mother, I’m Rooted: An Anthology of Australian Women Poets (Melbourne: Outback, 1975); Susan Hampton and Kate Llewellyn, The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets; Susan Lever, ed. The Oxford Book of Australian Women’s Verse (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998); Jennifer Harrison and Kate Waterhouse, eds., Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry 1986–2008 (Glebe, Australia: Puncher and Wattmann, 2009); Cassidy and Wilkinson, Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry; Anna Couani and Sneja Gunew, eds., Telling Ways: Australian Women’s Experimental Writing (Adelaide, Australia: Australian Feminist Studies, 1988); and Susan Hawthorne and Jenny Pausacker, eds., Moments of Desire: Sex and Sensuality by Australian Feminist Writers (Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1989).
(106.) Debra Adelaide, ed., A Bright and Fiery Troop: Australian Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (Ringwood, Australia: Penguin, 1988); Ann Vickery, “A ‘Lonely Crossing’: Nineteenth-Century Australian Women’s Poetry,” Victorian Poetry 40, no. 1 (2002): 33–54; and Hansord, “Spirit-Music Unbound.”
(107.) Ann Vickery, Stressing the Modern: Cultural Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry (Cambridge, UK: Salt, 2007); Susan Lever, “The Social Tradition in Australian Women’s Poetry” Women’s Writing 5, no. 2 (1998): 229–239; and Susan Sheridan, Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making their Mark (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 2011).
(108.) David Brooks and Brenda Walker, eds., Poetry and Gender: Statements and Essays in Australian Women’s Poetry and Poetics (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1989); and Rose Lucas and Lyn McCredden, Bridgings: Readings in Australian Women’s Poetry (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996).
(109.) Jenny Digby, A Woman’s Voice: Conversations with Australian Poets (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1995).
(110.) Alison Bartlett, Jamming the Machinery: Contemporary Australian Women’s Writing (Toowoomba, Australia: Association for the Study of Australian Literature, 1998); and Moya Costello et al., “Mud Map: Australian Women’s Experimental Writing,” TEXT 17 (2003).
(111.) Ann Vickery, “The Rise of ‘Women’s Poetry’ in the 1970s: An Initial Survey into New Australian Poetry, the Women’s Movement, and a Matrix of Revolutions,” Australian Feminist Studies 22, no. 53 (July 2007): 269–289.
(112.) Jennifer Ash, “Paradise and Australian Women Poets,” Southerly 48, no. 3 (1988): 259–273; and Frances Devlin-Glass and Lyn McCredden, eds., Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
(113.) Anita Heiss and Peter Minter, eds., The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature (Crows Nest, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2008); and Anne Brewster. Giving This Country a Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia (Amherst, Australia: Cambria, 2015).
(114.) Jennifer Strauss. “The Poetry of Dobson, Harwood, and Wright: ‘Within the Bounds of Feminine Sensibility?’” Meanjin 38, no. 3 (1979): 334–349; Shirley Walker, Vanishing Edens: Response to Australia in the Works of Mary Gilmore, Judith Wright, and Dorothy Hewett (Townsville, Australia: Foundation for Australian Literary Studies, 1992); and Marie-Louise Ayres, “‘Me Is Not a Stable Reality’: Negotiations of Identity in the Poetry of Dorothy Auchterlone, Rosemary Dobson, Dorothy Hewett, and J. S. Harry” (PhD diss., Australian National University, 1994).
(115.) “A Matter of Poetry: Why and How Does Poetry Matter,” Meanjin 60, no. 2 (2001): 48–64.
(116.) Kate Lilley, “Between Anthologies: Feminism and Genealogies of Australian’s Women’s Poetry,” Australian Feminist Studies 12, no. 26 (1997): 265–273; and Cassandra Atherton discusses the pressures of being a woman poet in the academy in “Poetic Boundary Conditions: Australian Poets in the Ivory Tower,” Journal of Gender Studies 25 (2016): 169–182.