Elizabeth Macklin

"It's a Woman's Prerogative to Change Her Mind"

An essay in appreciation of women's fearlessness in poetry


... Whether or not it's in fact purely female to slip outside the hedged-in corral of expectations and coercion, or bust through shrieking, the coercion of expectations remains a fact of our context, and people's responses to coercion (and also to noncoercion) also become recognizable fact....

It's the whole civilization, after all, that's having to relearn or to know in new ways what it might have thought before it experienced the diamond pipes—our consciousness of "heats and pressures"—in something of the way people learned (or didn't learn) Dickinson's prairie before it became unreal, or the downside of gods.The women who move in language beyond the caucus of pure ololyga have their work cut out for them. But they're grown women. And they have a sense of humor. At the end of [Linda] Hunt's reading of Dickinson, she gathered up the pages of the manuscript she'd made and held them to her chest, with clear affection. One of the last poems had been "Civilization spurns the leopard"—a line that got a burst of laughter, which quieted instantly at the swerve: "Was the leopard bold?"...

From "It's a Woman's Prerogative to Change Her Mind," in By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry.

Selected Works

Translations
A translation from the Basque, published by Seren Books in 2014
A translation from the Basque, published by Graywolf Press in 2007
Poems
"These [are] poems of abrupt perception and rigorous lyricism." —New York Times Book Review.
"[Her] city is surely the world, and the posture of kneeling surely implies reverence.." —Mary Oliver.
Several essays
A wander through Europe's oldest language, via a number of its latest speakers—poets, singers, writers, musicians—and bits of other phenomena.