The Political & The Personal: The Poetry of the Women’s Liberation Movement

On March 26, 2022, Deborah Rosenfelt, Ph.D., Professor Emerita in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, will reflect on the contributions of poets of the late 20th century Women’s Liberation Movement in shaping thought and action. Audre Lorde, one of the most influential Movement poets, famously asserted “Poetry Is Not a Luxury.” Lorde saw poetry as a source of deep personal and communal knowledge, forming “the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change.” Her definition is linked to one of the central slogans of the movement: “the personal is political.” Examining selected poems, we’ll discuss how women’s poetry, along with other forms of art and thought, helped to expand the meaning of “the political” and played a crucial role in envisioning the need and possibilities for social change.

The event was part of the Route 1 Corridor Conversations series organized by Hyattsville Aging in Place, Helping Hands University Park, Neighbors Helping Neighbors College Park, and Explorations on Aging College Park with sponsorship from the City of Hyattsville.

Additional Resources

Click here to download the packet of poems and resources that accompanied the conversation.

  • The Poetry Foundation — Very good short critical biographies of almost all the poets we looked at, additional poems to read, and podcasts of contemporary readings
  • The Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives, San Francisco State University — The archives have 5000 hours of recorded tapes from 40 years of readings
  • PennSound, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania
  • The Listening Booth at Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room — Audio-visual collection of literary recordings from the 1930s to the present
  • Also, check out the websites of individual poets: e.g.,

Related Posts