In Two Poems, Women Identify Society’s Restrictions — Then Cast Them Aside

03.28.18

This week, poet Richard Blanco highlighted works by two eminent female poets: “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton and “The Journey” by Mary Oliver.

In “Her Kind,” Sexton looks at the stereotypes passed down in history and myth about women, particularly about those who buck society’s conventions.

“[Sexton]’s playing a lot here with references to fairy tale figures, historical figures, and stereotypes about women in how they’re seen throughout history and even to this day,” Blanco said.

The poem can be read autobiographically, Blanco explains. Sexton married at young age, and took up poetry at the suggestion of her therapist as a way of dealing with her mental illness. Throughout her life, she struggled to juggle the role she felt society wanted her to play — that of a suburban housewife — with her identity as an artist.

“Her themes read a lot about trying to live this … everyday, normal suburban lifestyle with all this rage in her mind,” Blanco said.

Oliver’s “The Journey,” on the other hand, tells the story of “trying to find and fight for your own unique journey, your own path, your own story, your unique identity,” Blanco said.

This episode of “Village Voice” aired on Boston Public Radio on March 28, 2018.