The aim in this book is to draw on the insights of recent feminist scholarship, but not to be restricted to this perspective or to a body of work which might be defined as 'feminist' in any historically specific way. The 'Women's Poetry' of the title is not, then, necessarily or always a synonym for feminist poetry; instead, it encapsulates a whole range of concerns and interests - about women as poets, women as readers, women as speakers and addressees, and women as objects and subjects of the text.
The term 'feminist' is raised here, and it is important at this point to outline something of the history, the permutations, the potential and the limitations of the term when used in the context of literary studies. Throughout the twentieth century, successive waves of feminist criticism have offered a range of different ways of thinking about women - as subjects and objects, as producers and consumers of the literary text. In brief, in the 1960s and 1970s, renewed attention (renewed because it revisits the concerns of Enlightenment, fin de siècle and modernist movements) was placed on the representation of women in literature and their exclusion, as writers, from the literary canon. Key figures in this early period included Mary Ellmann's Thinking about Women (1968) and Kate Millett's Sexual