Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women

Contemporary American women are writing long poems in a variety of styles which repossess history, reconceive female subjectivity, and seek to revitalize poetry itself. This book explores this evolving body of work, offering revealing discussions of its diverse traditions and feminist concerns. The poets discussed include Rita Dove, Brenda Marie Osbey, Sharon Doubiago, Judy Grahn, Marilyn Hacker, Beverly Dahlen, Rachel Blau Du Plessis and Susan Howe. Arguing that women poets no longer feel intimidated by the traditional associations of long poems with the heroic, public realm or with great artistic ambition, Keller shows how the long poem's openness to sociological, anthropological and historical material makes it an ideal mode for exploring women's roles in history and culture. In addition, the varied forms of long poems - from sprawling free-verse epics and regular sonnet sequences to highly disjunctive experimental collages - make this hybrid genre easily adaptable to diverse visions of feminism and of contemporary poetry.