My Top 5 Female Empowerment Poems

Throughout high school, I continued to develop a love and appreciation for poetry. My love for it especially started taking off when I took an AP English course and a Creative Writing elective my senior year. My creative writing teacher, Mrs. Yutzy, would always start class off by just letting us write for about twenty minutes. We could either write about the prompt for the day or about anything we wanted to. Oftentimes, I would write a poem or just journal about things that were on my mind that morning. Through watching slam poem videos and studying empowering poets throughout history, male and female, I grew in my fascination for poetry. With this said, I want to share my top five female empowerment poems from five of my favorite poets, both classical and modern. All of these poems are written by women and contain deep meanings to empower women, even in the face of adversity in a patriarchal society. I hope you enjoy!

  1. 1. "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou

    Smiling woman wearing flower crown

    Throughout this poem, Maya Angelou repeats the phrase "'Cause I'm a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That's me." She talks about how she is proud of her body, even if she's not "built to suit a fashion model's size." She is confident in who she is, curves and grace included. I think every woman needs to read this poem and adopt Angelou's self-talk. You should be proud of the woman you are, even if you're not built from society's "ideal mold." You are beautiful for who you are and what you have to give to the world. Glow with confidence when you walk into a room and never let others bring you down if they cannot see your worth!

    Find this poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48985/phenomenal-woman

  2. 2. "The Applicant" by Sylvia Plath

    The Laladress Forms

    Sylvia Plath sheds light on the issues of inequality and feminism in her poem "The Applicant." She mocks the idea of how a wife is basically a commodity for the husband to own. The wife performs all of her home responsibilities to care for her husband and children, all while looking the part as well. Plath even recites, "A living doll, everywhere you look. / It can sew, it can cook, / It can talk, talk, talk." She expresses the distorted gender stereotypes and social pressures within marriage and reveals how flawed they are. Women are much more than a commodity to keep a husband or partner happy. A marriage should be enjoyable and fulfilling for both people involved.

    Find this poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57419/the-applicant

  3. 3. "You Are More Than Beautiful" by Rupi Kaur

    Skincare morning routine

    Rupi Kaur is one of my favorite contemporary poets. She breaks the rules of poetry since hers typically do not rhyme and are short in length. I love how each small poem of hers carries deep meaning hidden between the words. This poem I chose from her exemplifies how women are much more than their exterior appearance. She touches on the fact that women are often judged by the way they look or if they classify as "pretty" in someone's eyes. She says, "You are so much more than that." This speaks the absolute truth because each woman carries a world to discover inside of her if given the chance. She has her own talents, interests, abilities, dreams, experiences, and struggles to be known. Let's stop basing women off of their looks, but rather their minds and hearts.

    Find this poem here: https://centerforpoetry.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/poem-of-the-week-a-poem-by-rupi-kaur/

  4. 4. "They Shut Me Up in Prose" by Emily Dickinson

    bats flying against a sunset

    Emily Dickinson is another one of my favorite poets, and she is known as one of the greatest poets of all time. All of her poems were published after she died without her permission. I'm glad someone published them though because her words are so powerful, especially through her use of metaphors. In this one, she uses prose to represent men and poetry to represent women. The patriarchal society in which she lived tried to put her into a box to shut down her creativity and imagination as a writer. Dickinson states,"They might as wise have lodged a Bird / For Treason - in the Pound." This illustrates how shutting a bird in a pound would be foolish since the bird has wings and can fly away from it. The bird represents Dickinson and the pound signifies the constraints men try to place on her. She ultimately has the will power to continue to pursue her passions no matter what they say or do to her. You go, girl!

    Find this poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52196/they-shut-me-up-in-prose-445

  5. 5. "Pocket-Sized Feminism" by Blythe Baird

    College Women Freeze Eggs

    If you want to hear very powerful words and a powerful delivery, go watch Blythe Baird's slam poetry pieces on YouTube! She often publishes her performances under the channel "Button Poetry" on YouTube, and she often writes about women's issues. She has spoke about eating disorders, feminism, the LGBTQ community, and rape culture. In this particular piece, she expresses her frustration about how she can only talk about feminism and "pull it out of her pocket" when it is appropriate to, such as in a literary studies class or at poetry conferences. She wants to wear it with pride, but it is often hard to when we live in a male-dominated society. Blythe wants to use her voice to speak out about these issues, especially when she was too scared to in the moment of different experiences she has lived through. Don't be afraid to use your voice to make a difference and be a light to other women who have been in your shoes!

    Find this poem here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT74LH0W8ig

I really hope you enjoyed this list of poems, even if poetry is not really your thing! These women's words are meaningful and inspire me to speak out about what it is like being a woman in today's world. We have come a long way in women's progress, but we still have a far way to go! Through every day conversations and interactions, we can create a culture shift to start treating women as equals intellectually, emotionally, physically, and economically!

HCXO, Rachel