The Worst Poem I Ever Heard

Poetry Books

Credit: brewbooks. I’m sure their poetry reading was fabulous, unlike the one I’m describing.

I wish I’d said something, after the reading. I wish I’d approached the esteemed professor, though I was a young nobody, not even one of his students. I wish I’d had the nerve to tell him You’re not so enlightened. I wish I’d said to the those heaping praise on him That was some messed up crap. Sometimes I wish I’d shouted out in the middle, while he was still at the mic. I wish I’d booed while others were politely clapping.

The poetry reading was memorable, I’ll give him that. It was the late 80s or early 90s. My blood still boils decades later.

He read a serial killer poem, but not really a serial killer poem. It was about Ted Bundy, in particular, but not really about Ted Bundy. It was about a woman who had a conversation with Ted Bundy without being abducted, but it wasn’t about that, either.

The poet spun a verse about a fat girl who later discovers her girth made her an unattractive target. But think about it. How would she find that out? The poet thought he could get in the head of this young woman he called a girl, whom he referred to as a fat girl. He related her thoughts to us as he divined them — how being a fat girl (and by extrapolation unattractive, joyless, unfulfilled in life because nobody would date her) had only been a curse until that fateful day. But upon realizing her hideous visage (not his words as I remember, but the meaning behind his words as I remember) of fat had saved her, she becomes happy with her looks, for the very first time in her miserable existence. Again, I’m pretty sure miserable existence was not his exact phrase, but was his exact meaning.

At the end, some of us sat stony-faced, unclapping. At least there was that. I hope someone said something to him, showed him the many layers of wrong upon wrong in his poem. A colleague, a nephew, a daughter — someone who could make him listen. I hope he came to know. I hope he never published that poem. I hope he never again read it aloud. I hope he burned that poem. I hope he now carries around ashes of regret for having ever written it.

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Poem for Kathrine Switzer

For National Poetry Month, I’ve been writing a poem a day and keeping them hidden on my computer. But I finally feel like sharing one.

Yesterday, Kathrine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon again, fifty years after becoming the first woman to finish it officially. Bobbi Gibb had run it unofficially the year before. This inspired my poetic efforts yesterday.

Poem for Kathrine Switzer, April 17, 2017

What did they think would happen,
fifty years ago, if a woman ran?
Would we all be deprived of the cake
she should have been baking instead?
Would the race be sullied,
the stain forever ringing its collar?
Or worst of all –
the boys would have to share,
not only that day but all the days to come?
Well, worse came to worst
and she ran again in Boston today
with thousands of women on the course
while somewhere, surely,
some man baked a cake,
the downfall of civilization complete.

**
— Someone asked, so I’m adding this. You can share this. Feel free to copy and paste, even, but I would like a credit. Ida Bettis Fogle, author. Thanks.

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Credit: Kinchan1

Book List: Women of Adventure

Fiction

Ahab’s Wife, or, the Star-gazer: a Novel
by Sena Jeter Naslund;  1999
This is a hefty 668 pages, but having read it personally, I can tell you they go pretty quickly. Turns out the woman who married Moby Dick’s pursuer had been to sea herself, and other places, all full of adventure. Warning for the squeamish: intense scenes of cannibalism.

The Cage
by Audrey Schulman; 1994
A female wildlife photographer sets out with an otherwise all-male crew to photograph polar bears.

Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas
by Morgan Llywelyn; 1986
Historical fiction set in 16th century Ireland. Grania, aka Grace O’Malley, was a real Irish chieftain who clashed with Queen Elizabeth I.

I Was Amelia Earhart: a Novel
by Jane Mendelsohn; 1996
Earhart is the narrator of this story, which takes place after she and her navigator disappear.

The Little Balloonist: a Novel
by Linda Donn, 2006
Historical fiction, featuring Sophie Armant Blanchard, a female aeronaut in Napoleon’s France.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
by Jim Fergus, 1999
More historical fiction. This one addresses the “Brides for Indians” program instituted by Ulysses S. Grant.

Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
by Joseph Bruchac, 2003
Want more historical fiction? This story alternates viewpoints of Sacajawea and Clark. Young adult.

Stone Heart: a Novel of Sacajawea
by Diane Glancy, 2004
The title explains it.

Non-Fiction

Ada Blackjack: a True Story of Survival in the Atlantic
by Jennifer Niven, 2004
The story of a young Inuit woman who managed to survive becoming stranded on an Arctic island with a group of ill-prepared explorers.

Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine
by Holly Morris, 2006
Morris *and her mother* travel the world searching out women who are changing their corner of it.

Amelia Earhart: the Mystery Solved
by Elgen M.  & Marie K. Long, 2009
The Longs’ theory of what happened, backed up by extensive research.

Amelia Earhart’s Daughters: the Wild and Glorious Story of American Women Aviators from World War II to the Dawn of the Space Age, 2000
Leslie Haynsworth
Look! It’s both a title and a synopsis!

The Cowgirls
Joyce Gibson Roach, 1978
John Wayne didn’t have to hire little boys. The west was full of competent women.

Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia, 2005
by Janet Wallach
So she was the one who drew up those political boundaries…hmmmm.

East to the Dawn: the Life of Amelia Earhart
by Susan Butler
Another Earhart biography. Yeah, I know I have a lot of books about her on this list. So demand your money back if you don’t like it.

Eight Women, Two Model Ts and the American West
by Joanne Wilke, 2007
What could be more fun?

Facing the Extreme: One Woman’s Story of True Courage, Death-Defying Survival, and Her Quest for the Summit
by Ruth Ann Kocour, 1999
The one woman would be the author, who writes of her experiences on Mt. McKinley in 1992.

Finding Amelia: the True Story of the Earhart Disappearance
by Ric Gillespie, 2009
Yes, another one. Remember what I said before. Again, lots of documentation for the theories.

Four Years in Paradise
by Osa Johnson, originally published in 1941.
Johnson covers her four years in Kenya, filming wildlife documentaries.

Go Girl!; The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure
edited by Elaine Lee, 1997
Travel essays by Black women, including Gwendolyn Brooks and Alice Walker.

Gutsy Girls: Young Women Who Dare
by Tina Schwager, 1999
Written for the tween/teen audience. Stories of young (teens and early twenties) women who took of the challenge of pursuing a dream.

I Married Adventure
by Osa Johnson, first published 1940
Her marriage to adventure lead to the four years in paradise. African adventures with wildlife documentaries.

The Ice Cave: a Woman’s Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic
by Lucy Jane Bledsoe, 2006
11 travel/adventure essays about Bledsoe’s forays.

K2: One Woman’s Quest for the Summit
Heidi Howkins, 2000
Women climb mountains, too.

Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe
by Brian Dolan, 2001
What was a given for British men of a certain class at the time, was also seized by a handful of women.

Living With Cannibals and Other Women’s Adventures
by Michele B. Slung, 2001
Women adventurers from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

Maverick Women: 19th Century Women Who Kicked Over the Traces
by Frances Laurence, 1998
Couldn’t find a real description of this book. Be adventurous! Head into unknown territory! Read it without any more advance information than the title!

No Horizon is So Far: Two Women and Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica
by Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, 2003
In 2001, Bancroft and Arneson – two former school teachers – were the first women to cross the Antarctic on foot, at the ages of 46 and 50 respectively. Here they write about the experience.

Nobody Said Not to Go: The Lives, Loves and Adventures of Emily Hahn
by Ken Cuthbertson, 1998
Biography of the New Yorker writer who spent decades penning hundreds of articles about her globetrotting adventures.

Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark
by Jane Fletcher Geniesse, 1999
She traveled, she explored the Middle East, she made maps,  she worked against the Nazis. This book details all of that and more.

Sacagawea Speaks: Beyond the Shining Hills with Lewis and Clark
by Joyce Badgley Hunsaker, 2001
Drawing on extensive research, the author attempts to give insight into the famous trip from Sacagawea’s point of view.

They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades
by Barbara Holland, 2001
Women who broke free of convention.

To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa
by Pat Shipman, 2004
Who needs Victorian fiction when the non-fiction from that era provides so much adventure? Orphaned, raised in a harem, sold at auction, rescued from slavery and off to explore the Nile, all by the age of 15.

Uppity Women of the New World
by Vicki Leon, 2001
Profiles 200 women from North and South America and Australia.

Vanished Kingdoms: a Woman Explorer in Tibet, China and Mongolia, 1921-1925
by Mabel H. Cabot, 2003
The woman explorer was Janet Wulson.

Wild West Women: Travellers, Adventurers, and Rebels
by Rosemary Neering, 2000
Examines a variety of females experiences in the Wild West.

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman
Alice Steinbach, 2002
The author shares her experience of learning to take chances.

The Woman Who Walked to Russia
by Cassandra Pybus, 2004
The author attempts to follow the footsteps of Lillian Alling, who in 1927 set out to walk from New York state to her original home in Siberia.

Women of Adventure
by Jacqueline A. Kolosov, 2003
For the young adult audience, profiles 7 women.

Women Were Pirates, Too
by C.T. Anthony, 2006
Yes, they were.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey
by Lillian Schlissel, 2004
We’re talking Oregon Trail here.

For Kids

Amelia Earhart: the Legend of the Lost Aviator
by Shelley Tanaka, 2008
Biography.

Finding Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life
by Mae Jemison, 2001
Autobiography of an astronaut

Harriet Chalmers Adams: Explorer and Adventurer
by Durlynn Anema, 1997
Biography of an early 20th-century explorer and war correspondent.

How High Can We Climb ?The Story of Women Explorers
by Jeannine Atkins, 2005
Twelve women who pursued their adventures on land, sea and in the air.

Mae Jemison: The First African American Woman in Space
by Magdalena Alagna, 2004
Not even the sky is the limit for Mae Jemison .

Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folk Tales for Strong Girls
by Jane Yolen, 2000
Folk tales from around the world, starring strong female leads.

Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages
by Vicki Leon, 1998
Biographies of influential women of the Middle Ages. This is nice – she’s goes beyond Europe to Africa and Asia.

Sacagawea
by Liselotte Erdrich, 2005
Picture book biography for young readers.

Sacagawea and the Bravest Deed
by Stephen Krensky, 2002
Another one for younger kids, this is a story of the child Sacagawea.

Women Explorers in North and South America: Nellie Cashman, Violet Cressy-Marcks, Ynes Mexica, Mary Blair Niles, Annie Peck
by Margo McLoone, 1997

Women of the Wild West: Biographies from Many Cultures
by Ruth Pelz, 1995
Imagine that! There were a variety of women in the old west.

Women of the World: Women Travelers and Explorers
by Rebecca Stefoff, 1992
Women explorers and discoverers throughout history

You Can’t Do That, Amelia
by Kimberly Klier, 2008
Picture book bio of Amelia Earhart

Update:

Titles suggested in the comments –

Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder

West With the Night by Beryl Markham