The Poetics of Gender Resistance

By Zara Raab

gender_violenceThe passion for setting people right is in itself an afflictive disease.
Distaste which takes no credit to itself is best.

These concluding lines from Marianne Moore’s “Snakes, Mongooses, Snake-Charmers, and the Life” are good advice from one of our best high modern poets. But it is advice that’s hard to follow in cases of bodily or emotional harm when the need to speak out can be compelling, and must be honored. It can be especially hard when encountering an A to Z of heart-rending gender violence—as in the new anthology Women Write Resistanceof child abuse, false imprisonment, incest, jealousy, murder, oppression, rape. Throughout this book, women speak to women, in sympathy and in exasperation to themselves and each other. I like the way Rebecca Foust sustains a family quarrel in her poem “Backwoods”:

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