Poetry and Second Wave Feminism

A new student-curated exhibit in our Special Collections Instruction Gallery celebrates Poetry and Second Wave Feminism. Students in Dr. Bethany Hicok’s ENGL113 course have selected, researched, and presented materials that contribute to creating the rich intertextual story of the feminist poetics and politics they have been studying this semester.Banner showing key poets and bookcovers of the Second Wave movement

The close alliance between second wave feminism (the women’s liberation movement) and feminist poetry reshaped the landscape of American poetry in the postwar period. As Nancy Berke has argued, “In the feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, poets, and the poetry they wrote, were integral to the movement’s organizing and theorizing.” Poetry was not only an individual means of expression for the poet, but a “‘tool’ for movement building and resistance.”

The alliance is documented in more than seventy feminist periodicals and more than sixty presses operating between the late 1960s and mid-1970s. Many of these periodicals and other primary documents of the second wave have been collected by Williams College Library Special Collections so that students can learn about and experience first-hand the many voices that made up the women’s movement.  “Poetry and Second Wave Feminism” is on display in the Instruction Gallery (4th floor of Sawyer Library) during regular Special Collections hours through January 20th.