Sappho, a Greek poet whose work remains only in fragments, is one of the foremothers of poetry in the Western tradition. Although women have been central to the history of poetry, at various times female poets have been dismissed and minimized, sometimes with the gendered label “poetess.” In spite of this, women poets have created an impressive body of work. At the beginning of the second millennium, there is new recognition of contemporary female poets, new publishing opportunities for women poets exist, and critical appraisal of the work of female poets from the past continues.

There are no themes or styles that define poetry by women. Female poets, like male poets, write poetry that is diverse, idiosyncratic, and defies categorization. The work of an individual woman ...

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