How to be a feminist poet

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1. Be a feminist
2. Write a poem

Not as simple as that
No
There is a third secret step
3. Use your poem to advocate for women’s rights

and a fourth
4. Advocate often

if advocating means activism
if activism means being active
if advocating often means
being active often
I am not a feminist poet
I cannot advocate, I cannot often

My hands are too full of pushrims
and cane handles to carry this cap

I am, likewise,
ineligible for membership
of the dead poets society
ladies auxiliary division

I’m not dead yet

I will, I know,
die before my time
a reduction of 5 to 10 years
I’ve been promised

(A small loss according to the NHS)
My early death alone
is insufficient
to expedite my application

I am not letting this go
I can’t afford the luxury of activism
of advocating
when I can only go out twice a week
and then I have to spend the next day in bed
when a venue listed as wheelchair accessible
has no disabled toilet

I’m not letting this go
not when my last relapse left me unable to write more than one hundred & forty characters in
one go
for months on end

I am not letting this go
I am a feminist
I am a poet
I’m holding a card
Do you need me to show it.


Author’s Notes
1. I wrote ‘How to be a feminist poet’ in response to the criteria for inclusion in a journal issue featuring feminist poets.

2. The poem appears in the online journal Forage.


Copyright © 2017 Lindsay Oliver

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