Women Versed in Myth

Essays on Modern Poets


In stock (can be backordered)

Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

About the Book

Throughout history, men have prayed to gods and poets have interpreted ancient myths for new audiences. But what about women? With sections on teaching and modern writing, this collection of new essays examines how modern female poets—including H.D., Louise Glück, Ruth Fainlight, Rita Dove, Sylvia Plath and others—have subverted classical expectations in interpreting such legends as Persephone, Helen and Eurydice. Other mythological figures are also explored and rewritten, including Buddhism’s Kwan Yin, Celtic Macha, the Aztecs’ Coatlicue, Pele of Hawaii, India’s Sita, Sumer’s Inanna, Yemonja of the Yoruba and many more.

About the Author(s)

Colleen S. Harris serves as a librarian on the faculty of California State University Channel Islands. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee for her fiction and poetry, she is the author of three poetry collections and lives in Camarillo, California.

Valerie Estelle Frankel teaches English at Mission College and San Jose City College. The author of 75 popular culture books and more than 100 stories and essays, she lives in Sunnyvale, California.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Colleen S. Harris and Valerie Estelle Frankel

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7192-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2608-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I: Classical Myth Subverted
Sap Rising: Bodies Figured as Trees in H.D., Atwood and Glück (Wendy ­Whelan-Stewart) 5
Mythotropism: A Psychology of Writing (to) Myth (Coco Owen) 14
Burying Helen: H.D.’s Anthropoetics (Lisa D. Simon) 25
The Needed Underworld: Modern Reactions to Symbolic Death (Rachel McCoppin) 34
From Persephone’s Lips: Three Retellings by Louise Glück (Valerie Estelle Frankel) 43
Reimagining Myth and the Maternal with Ruth Fainlight, Margaret Atwood and Katie Donovan (Charlotte Beyer) 50
“Out of the Ash I Rise”: Sylvia Plath and the Rebirth of the Woman Poet (Kate Williams) 59

Part II: Outside the Greek Tradition—From the Near East to the Aztecs
Coatlicue and Chicana Grrl Power (Sarah R. Wakefield) 67
Conduits and Conjurers: Heroic Characters, Sacred Nature and Social Order in Kelly Norman Ellis, Nikky Finney and Patricia Smith (Janine Harrison) 73
When Pele Blows: Trask’s Repositioning of the Hawaiian Creation Epic (James A. Wren) 83
Mythic Reenactment from Sandra Alcosser and Pattiann Rogers (Tami Haaland) 91
Utilizing and Disrupting Legends in Indian Poetry (Pramila Venkateswaran) 97
The Mything Link: The Feminine Voice in the Shifting Australian National Myth (Phil Fitzsimmons) 106
Sister of Life, Sister of Death: Fluid Roles in Catherynne M. Valente’s The Descent of Inanna (Valerie Estelle Frankel) 114

Part III: Within the Classroom
Female Icons in Popular Culture: A Semiotic Approach to Teaching (Elizabeth Johnston) 121
La Llorona and La Malinche in ­Re-Vision: Chicana Poets Countering Traditions and Claiming Voice (Leigh C. Johnson) 140
Ancient Voices: Bringing the Greeks to Life for Students K–12 (Kate Hovey) 148
Taking Pomegranates from Strangers: Contemporary Female Poets on Persephone (Sarah R. Wakefield) 160

Part IV: Ancestry, the Personal and ­Self-Writing Women
Family Lore, Suffragist Ancestors and the Scrapbook of a 19th Century Poetess; or, How to Find a Topic for the Dissertation (Laura Madeline Wiseman) 169
Creating Light: ­Myth-making of Lucille Clifton (Glenis Redmond) 179
Penelope at the Loom: Mythology and the Modern Workplace in the Poetry of ­21st Century Women (Kristin ­Berkey-Abbott) 187
In My Own Image: Crafting Poetry About the Sacred Feminine (Paula J. Vaughan) 194
Telling a Truth versus Telling the Truth: On Writing from Personal History (Jenny ­Sadre-Orafai) 203
They’re Not Mermaids, Really: Shame and ­Re-visioning the Mermaid Mythos (Jennifer Jean) 209
Calling the Goddess (Janine Canan) 218

About the Contributors 229
Index 233