by Tracy Youngblom
Here it is, the issue I thought I’d never put together: the All-Male Poetry Chorus from Emprise Review!
As my life has evolved, my feminist consciousness has evolved, too, which is probably true for many. But I grew up in a house of all women (my parents divorced and my only brother died as a child). Our female contingency was not, then, by choice, but by force of nature. Still, I learned feminist values–independence of thought and action, insistence on equality–as a result of my situation and before I knew the terms for them, or knew what the term feminist meant. In my youth, the term was “women’s libber.”
I embrace that label still, and all its convictions, which means I keep a keen eye out for disparity, inequality, the way traditional roles plague us into the 21st century. My main focus, as a feminist, is to spread that awareness, not in a militant fashion, but organically; I teach college English, and I appreciate daily opportunities to help students notice what’s around them: women’s wages lag behind men’s, ads aimed at women reinforce traditional roles and set an impossibly high standard of beauty, white models still hold the majority of modeling jobs. Any physical standard for men pales in comparison. The list goes on.
Most importantly, since I get to choose texts, I make sure I don’t default to the “white male writers” of the canon, on whose words I cut my literary teeth; deliberately choosing a mix of genders, cultures, and perspectives has become second nature to me. But I know that such diversity of choice must be, indeed, a choice. If we don’t remind ourselves to offer a buffet of possibilities, we may indeed (subconsciously or not) revert to homogeneity.
So, a little sheepishly, I offer the group of poems for this issue, written by men. I am not sheepish because of the quality of the poems; they can stand alone, on their own excellence. I feel a little sheepish because I didn’t even notice I had an all-male line up until I had sent the acceptance notices. I was taken in by the beauty and daring and truth of these pieces. Here you will read about deer and death and artificial facades (of meat, of society). You will read poems that evoke memory and seek to process it, on a communal scale. You will read about poetry itself, the hard-nosed push toward meaning. Mostly, I hope you read–as I did–poems that transcend categories of gender and rise off the page to seek your attention.
And next month, look forward to an issue devoted to meta-poetry.
Tracy is the poetry editor for Emprise Review.