Chapter 1 of this book began by citing Isobel Armstrong's comment about women poets problematising rather than polemicising their situation. I want to close by quoting Harriet Tarlo, who insists on the importance of the sometimes difficult because unconventional – experimental poetry discussed in the last chapter:
A woman's poetry which asks 'who am I? what am I? as a
woman?' as experimental poetry so often does, should be at
least as widely read as one which is based on identity politics
and which is more likely to say, 'here I am, listen to me, as a
It is this self-conscious, deliberate and productive problematisation, rather than any straightforward proselytising, which makes this such a dynamic and fascinating field. And it is this shift from a securely identity-based poetics (characteristic of the second wave feminist movement of the 1960s to the early 1980s) to an aesthetic which is marked by difference, displacement, liminality and elusiveness which perhaps signals the next step for women's poetry.
In order to speculate further about the future of women's poetry, we need to understand something about the changing nature of modern feminism. It is commonplace to define current thinking in