Thursday, October 21, 2010

Numbers Trouble in 1920

Matt Mullins, a poet and teacher in North Carolina, was kind enough to send me a fascinating article he found while looking through old back issues of Poetry for a research project. He stumbled upon a short essay by Harriet Monroe that addresses the issue of gender parity in poetry and publishing. Monroe reports reading an article by an "enemy-friend" (!) who claims that "feminist influence has had a bad effect" and that Poetry is "edited by a woman" and "largely dominated by another woman with radical and perverse notions of the high art" ... most of its contributors, he goes on to complain, "are feminine by accident of birth." Monroe responds that she did the math for the preceding year and found that in fact almost twice as many pages had included verse by men as by women. "The facts compel me to accuse myself of injustice toward my own sex," she writes.

How little things change, eh? You can read the whole article (and the whole issue) here (PDF). The article begins on page 146. Thanks to Matt for the pointer!


  1. Awww man, the Pegasus is straight-up fucking that capital letter P in Poetry

  2. So hard it's creating clouds of dust.

  3. Clouds of heaven, maybe

    Thank you for posting this. I feel like I've heard the quote, "The vigorous male note is now seldom heard in the land, and almost never at all in the pages of POETRY"--it's great to finally read the whole exchange. Mutterings of a Sex War! I love the past, especially when it's not even past.

  4. Totally. Who new H-Mo invented the term "frenemy"?


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