Wednesday night I went to a reading at Amherst College to celebrate the publication of the new Library of America anthology, Poems from the Women’s Movement, edited by Honor Moore. Quite a contingent of women collaborated to bring this event off, and what an electric evening it was! Not only was Honor Moore in attendance — our Grande Dame kicked off the readings and then closed them with a bang — but five young women students also read poems from the anthology, and Joan Larkin as well, and, just in case that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins, Audre Lorde’s daughter, was on hand to read and regale us with anecdotes of her mother.
Audre Lorde notwithstanding, one of my favorite moments of the night was when one of the students, I think her name was Rachel Ruskin, read Susan Griffin’s poem, “An Answer to a Man’s Question, ‘What Can I Do About Women’s Liberation?’”. Ruskin’s a natural reader, a natural performer; she navigated and mined the irony and pathos of this poem to great effect.
The sheer variety of poems and poets included in the anthology made for a very interesting evening. And having these young women, this latest generation to benefit from the efforts of the women’s movement, do most of the reading gave the poems an extra charge, reminded us, if we needed the reminding, of their continuing relevance to our lives.