House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.

GREEN BAY / NORTHEAST

Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.

New Woman

Had this idea of writing poems about women we should know about but don't because men write the history and art history books. Women randomly discovered. Below is an example. It has an epitaph (something I don't usually include). Thoughts on everything... idea? format?

New Woman

The New Woman [of the 1890s] pursues self-fulfillment and independence, often choosing to work for a living. She typically strives for equality in her relationships with men, seeking to eliminate the double standard that shaped the sexual mores of the time.

Finney, Gail. Women in Modern Drama: Freud, Feminism, and European Theater at the Turn of the Century. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1989

She did not mean to be new
or unruly, or outrage in her long pants.
She was simply her father's daughter,
her brother's sister, a painter,
her hand across the pulped paper
shaping caress, pigment-stroked
interpretations of everyday cares.

Every lesson a new animal, covering all
the beasts of burden, teaching her an
alphabet, immovable presence, smelling its
meaty coat, feeling its breath, each creature
portrayed with a stolid soul, sweeping the
cavalcade of canvas.

A for abbatoir, she understood first-hand
the workings of muscle, sinew, smooth flank,
roaming the masculine edges, smoking her
misunderstood cigars. B for brilliance, the

'hereditary genius' of an artistic family
creating its own rules, ambition picked up
like a brush in her father's studio, his belief
in the possibility of her sex, his workshopping
her fierce and independent temperament.

C for commission, celebrated salon
success, Ploughing the Nevers. She
earned honors never before bestowed on a
woman. Monumental in scale, The Horse Fair 
exported her renown to the rest of the world,
animalier beyond compare.

Perhaps, her life asked, inspiration did not
care about gender or its delineations.

About Rosa Bonheur

                                                     The Horse Fair, Rosa Bonheur

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