Classic Poems to Read by Women

For generations, social and political movements, like feminism, have expressed themselves in many ways, but especially through poetry. The poetry collections below give us a window into the solitary moments of some of the modern era’s leading feminist voices in past and present societies. Fearless, intimate, wry, and funny, these collections will strengthen your soul and inspire you to celebrate your own experiences in life. 

  1. 1. Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur

    Her narrative tells of the pain of loss and the elation of triumph, capturing in fine detail the experience of being a young woman in today’s world, surrounded by sexism, rape, and other issues we face on the daily. Kaur’s collection is sure to be a staple in all ways and I suggest everyone reads this poetry collection. 

  2. 2. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, Audre Lorde

    The self-proclaimed “black lesbian mother warrior poet” was uniquely qualified to rail against the racism, sexism, homophobia, and general marginalization that burdened her life until her death from aggressive cancer in 1992. This collection of over 300 of her most poignant poems is an essential addition to every feminist. 

  3. 3. Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, Maya Angelou

    An icon of American literature, Angelou’s words feel powerful when they line the page in verse. Although she didn’t always align perfectly with The Women’s Movement, Angelou was a lifelong warrior against the oppression of every kind. They help us remember that our true illnesses are hate, fear, and ignorance, and they can only be cured with love, courage, and understanding from others. 

  4. 4. Selected Poems II, Margaret Atwood

    Though I came to Atwood through her iconic fiction, it is her poetry that has come to mean the most to me. For me, her poems from this period expressed my own complicated mix of sorrow, pity, praise, and controlled rage. She captures the frustration of women wanting to be seen for themselves, not something that is molded to their husband’s fantasy. 

Feminist poetry is a movement that came to life during the 1960s, a decade when many writers challenged traditional notions of form and content. There are many questions, but generally, feminist poets have a connection to feminism as a political movement, and they continue to have that today.