Innovation through Revision: Woman Poets’ Narrative Strategies
Ufuk Sepetçi Gündoğan (Izmir University of Economics, Izmir, Turkey)
Rewriting by woman writers is a tradition in twentieth-century literature. Different forms of rewriting have been practiced for a long time, both by male and female writers, serving various purposes. Innovative woman poets challenge the ancient literary representations of women by changing the stories in which female characters are muted and practically non-existent. Descending from poststructuralist theories, French feminists assert that language is symbolic, and overtly phallic, as are poetic forms and literary traditions. Luce Irigaray suggests female experience necessitates a completely different language since women have not been able to find the suitable medium to express themselves with. French feminists claimed the requirement for an alternative tradition of women’s writing.
Innovative woman poets create their rewritten versions of canonical texts with the use of their own narrative strategies and, what critic Linda A. Taylor calls, a “feminist poetics.” (1) Inventive modernist women, like Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, H.D., and Mina Loy among many others, as “literary mothers,” contributed to the forming of this female poetics. In this paper, I examine the poetic strategies of woman writers who subvert and revise the western, male-dominated literary tradition. My focus will be on poets and critics Alicia Ostriker, Kathleen Fraser, and Eleanor Wilner, who engage in various modes of poetry writing, presenting perspectives that are ignored and suppressed by the patriarchal voice in literature. Defying dominant conventional poetic forms, they are re-inventing language structures that capture women’s experience and voice. Their focus ranges widely from historical figures and events to notions of nationalism, war, and inter-sexual relationships.
1 Taylor, Linda A.: A Seizure of Voice: Language Innovation and a Feminist Poetics in the Works of Kathleen Fraser. Contemporary Literature. 33.2 (1992): 337–372.