BkMk Press Books

Pro Femina


by Kizer, Carolyn

Price: $8.95, 32 pages

ISBN: 9781886157309, 2000

A first-wave feminist Ur-text. . . --Publishers Weekly

It's an extraordinary piece of writing, unlike anything else I know in literature Powerful in its argument, witty and appealing in its manner, and very, very well written. --Hayden Carruth

Elegant teacher and metrical matriarch, Kizer can argue with anyone in history on our behalf. She is my personal Roman and Greek "great," my American Feminist-next-door. --Sandra McPherson

The publication of Carolyn Kizer's Pro Femina sequence in book form is an event that calls for champagne, essays, discussions, a prize or two: above all, celebration. Kizer is one of our finest poets, a fact from which we should not be distracted by the pendant ones of her being a great wit and a great diplomat of the republic of letters. The first three sections of Pro Femina were a feminist call to arms in the 1960s, enunciated with such finesse, all the verve and humor we are still reproached with lacking, that it is heard as clearly by new readers today. "Fanny" is a triumph of the dramatic monologue, a novelist's or biographer's recreation of an extraordinary woman, a place and a time in the space of a long poem, also a document of how women survive. And Kizer's new poem ["The Erotic Philosophers"] will lead her readers to disagree with one of its concluding lines: Carolyn Kizer, woman and poet, IS one of our major literary philosophers. --Marilyn Hacker

Pro Femina is a poem that every woman whose spirit has been damaged by deferring to the male should read. Men could read it too--it might open their eyes and improve their performance. I particularly liked the part about Robert Louis Stevenson's wife Fanny that tells how a woman of feeling and intellect made a life of her own. Kizer is exceptionally well informed. Her poetry is vigorous and full of memorable sentences. --Louis Simpson


Celebrated poet Carolyn Kizer won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985(YIN) and has received other honors and awards from the National Academy, The Poetry Society of America and the Theodore Roethke Foundation. She has taught at many universities, including Columbia, Princeton and Stanford. Her most recent book is Harping On: Poems 1985-1995.


Published 2000

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Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Winners Announced: New Letters Literary Awards

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