Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

The Empowering Voices of the 1900’s

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Brooks, Plath, and Clifton: Their True Passion, Talent, and Voice.

All are incredibly talented poets who are shown to express and explore topics that have never been analyzed before. Without these poets, no one would understand the anger women have towards the inequality of blacks and single motherhood. The voice of women would lack confidentially, and hope.

Gwendolyn Brooks:

Gwendolyn Brooks humorously describes her youthful realization of her literary calling: “Other girls Had Boy Friends.  I ‘Wrote”  (806). What she wrote about seemed to reflect her childhood experiences. She experienced racism from white students and interracial prejudice because of her dark skin. She viewed language as a source of empowerment (806). Brooks was seeking “to retrieve the voice and place of black motherhood”. She addresses issues such as abortion, racist, and domestic violence, and the difficulties of raising children in poverty (807). Within one of her works, The Mother she addresses the unborn, whose lives are fused with the mothers. Brooks blends virtuosity and compassionate to illume the lives of women and to focus on the meaning of motherhood.

“I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim

killed children.

I have contracted. I have eased

My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.

I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized

Your luck…” (808).

Brooks voices out that when an abortion takes place, the bond between the mother and her child is unbearable. She seems regretful, yet explains that she had no other choice. It is a heartfelt poem where she talks bout how she will not be able to do certain things for the children that she aborted. This poem may be a reflection of what many other women are dealing with. She wanted to have a voice for women going through the same thing and assure them that they shouldn’t feel guilty. Brooks states in the last stanza;

“Believe me, I loved you all.

Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you

All” (808).

  • To get a better understanding of Gwendolyn Brooks voice view this clip of her reading her poem We Real Cool and follow along here. 

Sylvia Plath:

Sylvia Plath once said, “I am a genius of a writer, I have it in me. I am writing the best poems of my life: they will make my name” (812). Plath’s view on motherhood was very dark and negative. She was a poet who combined psychological daring and technical virtuosity. She explored the interactions between women’s creativity and anger. She expresses her anger through her work Childless Woman when she states in the last stanza;

My funeral,

And this hill and this

Gleaming with the mouths of corpses” (817)

Plath refers to her “funeral” as motherhood which expresses her struggle to carve out a poetic identity. She insisted that “being born a woman is her awful tragedy” (813). Her voice and mood throughout her works sets a tone of negativity for her audience. Within the Edge she portrays that through her death, the children are dying as well.

“Each dead child coiled, a white serent,

One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty. 

She had foled…” (818).

Sylvia Plath has a unique literary style that is a common thread throughout the majority of her lasting work. Through her unique use of rhythm and meter, her prevailing themes of feminist criticism and through her unique approach of characterization she has left a huge remark on the history of women.

Lucille Clifton:

Lucille Clifton is known for saying a lot with just few words, she often focuses her work on mother-daughter connection and the imaginary lives of Biblical women (818). Her work emphasized endurance and strength through adversity. She mentions, “I am a black woman and I write from the experience, I do not feel inhibited or bound by what I am” (818). Within Sarah’s Promise, Clifton gave Sarah a voice. She allows Sarah to command God to obey her;


speak to my husband.

spare me my one good boy” (820).



Author: Molly Greene

Molly is a contributing writer covering home, moving and storage topics for the Life Storage blog.

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