Portrayal Of Social Issues Faced By Women English Literature Essay

The purpose of this drawn-out essay is to analyse how Patience Agbabi portrays the issues adult females are faced with in her poem rhythm ”Seven Sisters ” from her poesy aggregation ”Transformatrix ” and analyze the different point of views of the chief subjects presented in the seven verse forms from the position of the poet.

This is done by first separating three chief subjects in the seven verse forms which are:

Teenage gestation and harlotry

Adolescence and fairytale stereotypes

Sexuality, sexual maltreatment and gender outlooks

These subjects were so exhaustively analyzed by elaborate probe of the verse forms and extra external beginnings. With the intent of understanding the message behind the verse forms more adequately, an interview with the poet, Patience Agbabi, was organized foremost by reaching her through www.patienceagbabi.wordpress.com and subsequently by electronic mail. The correspondence is attached in the appendix.

After an in depth research of the chief subjects, it was possible to reason that Patience Agbabi portrayed the adult females and the societal issues in a more unconventional mode by foregrounding the virtuous every bit good as the unpleasant features of the chief characters. This is different for illustration from the media which, influenced by society, typically merely presents merely one point of position and therefore ignore the sentiments of the people who really suffer from the societal issues discussed in this essay.


Patience Agbabi is a British poet born in London in 1965 to Nigerian parents. She was educated at Oxford Univeristy and published the poesy aggregation, named ”Transformatrix ” , in 2000. This drawn-out essay will analyse seven sestina verse forms from that aggregation, appropriately called the ”Seven Sisters ” , which are a true reading of the poet ‘s position on adult females and the many challenges they go through. With each of the seven adult females stand foring a different clip and type of life, Patience Agbabi has given a really interesting word picture of the transmutation of adult females through clip. The issues in the verse forms vary a great trade. The chief subjects discussed are adolescent gestation and harlotry, adolescence and fairytale stereotypes, and gender, sexual maltreatment and gender outlooks. In her verse forms Patience Agbabi tries to interrupt the stereotypes of adult females that have formed from old ages and old ages of misinterpretation and deficiency of involvement to cognize the other side of the narrative. It is interesting to see that even though a women’s rightist, the poet does non picture the adult females in the seven verse forms in an highly positive or ideal mode ; the characters are all reliable and with defects, as it is in existent life, which is precisely the ground why they are so challenging to read. Alternatively of the worn out word pictures of the subjects in the verse forms, Agbabi tries to research a different point of view and widen the apprehension of for illustration cross-dressers, tribades or rebellious adolescents. The poet uses one of the most hard signifiers of poesy to maestro, the sestina, to stress the most of import facets in each verse form. A sestina is a extremely structured verse form consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by its minister plenipotentiary. The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the stanzas, but in a different order each clip[ 1 ]. The six insistent word are clip, miss, terminal, kid, boy, dark – each of these stand foring the cardinal subjects of the verse forms and uniting the ”Seven Sisters ” together. In whole the inquiry this essay aims to reply is: How does Patience Agbabi portray the issues adult females are faced with in her poem rhythm ”Seven Sisters ” ?

Teenage gestation and harlotry

Teenage gestation has been a job throughout history, the lone difference being that nowadays it is much more talked about and there are existent steps taken to alleviate the state of affairs. During the Second World War nevertheless, which is besides the clip frame for the first verse form ”Martina ”[ 2 ], the state of affairs was much worse and the job was ignored or denied. As described in the verse form, the war had a hideous consequence on people as most were populating in changeless fright, believing merely about the result of the confrontation. With the work forces sent to conflict, the adult females had to supply for themselves and for many it meant acquiring a occupation and working long hours for the first clip in their lives. It is to no surprise so, that some adult females resorted to easier ways to maintain their old life style and at the same clip assist the war-effort. The so called ”victory misss ” or ”khaki-wackies ” provided respectable company for military work forces: they wrote letters, played cards, danced with them and finally ended up transporting their kids as a consequence of imprudence.[ 3 ]In the verse form ”Martina ” , the difference between the two manners of behavior is described by the fact that in the clip of fright and desperation, when adult females had to work hard and nutrient was in really short supply, the so called ”khaki-wackies ” had a much more glamourous life style, at least on the exterior:

”.. But we were weekend

adherents, evacuees scared of dark

darks pierced with blitzkrieg pyrotechnics, child-

like, cleaving to fuss ‘s skirt. She found clip

to party in new rayonss, convivial miss

turning juicy from adult male and male child,

on cocoa and plum brandy. I was romp… ”[ 4 ]

In world they were non-professional cocottes, misss who resorted to more straight-forward steps to last the turbulent and unsure times. In the last three stanzas of the verse form, Agbabi describes the really typical result of such behaviors, which was gestation. As the V-girls were in bulk immature misss ramping from the age of 12 to 17, adolescent gestation rate was for illustration in the United States higher in the 1940 ‘s than it is now.[ 5 ]

” … .

We all knew she was anticipating a kid.

In those yearss we all expected the male child

to get married her. But it being wartime,

excessively shortly his two-month leave came to an terminal.

Her male parent threw her out into pitch-dark

November ‘s clasps with words ”No miss

of mine… ” She gave birth to a babe miss,

Martina. They wanted to set the kid

up for acceptance. … . ”[ 6 ]

In these lines the poet besides explains the misconception people had about the life style of such misss.

It was expected that the soldiers would get married the miss they got pregnant, but the world was rather different. Majority of the work forces had no purpose to take duty, and even when they did walk down the aisle, the matrimonies normally ended when the war was over. The misss were left behind, pregnant and rejected by the society, with no other option than to fall back to illegal abortion, give the kid up for acceptance or seek to raise their newborn entirely.[ 7 ]The adult females could non anticipate aid from their households as it was considered inexcusable to hold a kid born out of marriage. The media portrayed them as people who merely had themselves to fault for their state of affairs, but the poem ”Martina ” evokes instead sympathy than discouragement for the character, particularly with the last lines:

” … . In clip,

she got married for the kid ‘s interest, a boy-

next-door type ; and in clip I met a miss

with sloe-dark eyes and loved her boulder clay the terminal. ”[ 8 ]

Patience Agbabi herself says that: ”The conversational foremost individual narrative invites the reader to place with these adult females, to bask their spirit and humor, to sympathize with them in malice of their ethical motives. ”[ 9 ]Throughout the verse form and particularly in the terminal, the storyteller is more intrigued and fascinated by the triumph miss, instead than being appalled. In my sentiment it reflects that in many ways the V-girls were envied for their apparently glamourous life styles and their free-spirited nature, by other, more conservative, adult females during that clip.

The other verse form in the aggregation, that has the cardinal subjects of teenage gestation, harlotry and besides sexual maltreatment is ”Samantha ”[ 10 ]. Unlike ”Martina ” , the life of ”Samantha ” takes topographic point at a more modern clip. The poem trades largely with harlotry, but one time once more it is non from the really typical point of view, as the adult female ‘s positive features are every bit emphatic with her short-comings. The verse form besides gives more insight to one of the grounds behind harlotry and from that besides adolescent gestation.

” …

They ca n’t see my bump in the dark.

I work Stamford Hill largely. My first clip

was 96. We was truly bust. Boy

from the local estate. Dealer. The misss

set me up to it. Once I got over the gustatory sensation it was kid ‘s

drama. Sucked him like an ice lolly in June. We call it ‘making terminals

meet. ‘ ”[ 11 ]

In this stanza, the cocotte is speaking about why she foremost got started with her line of work, and as for most misss, it is normally about fiscal jobs and a deficiency of instruction or chances to happen a proper occupation. Harmonizing to Claire Sterk: money, history of sexual maltreatment, holding grown up without love from the important grownups in their lives and being enticed by a male of female friend or by peer force per unit area from a group of friends are the chief grounds behind harlotry.[ 12 ]All of those are besides mentioned in the verse form ”Samantha ” . When comparing ”Samantha ” to ”Martina ” so their one similarity is gestation, what is different, is the two adult females ‘s perceptual experience of the state of affairss.

In ”Martina ” , the miss is punished for her state of affairs and considers seting the kid up for acceptance. In ”Samantha ” , the cocotte has a much more positive attitude towards the fact that she has a kid.

”..I ‘d decease if anything happened to my child. A kid

supports you sane. .. ”[ 13 ]

Even though merely taking topographic point 20 to 30 old ages subsequently, the mentality on the state of affairs had transformed, and cocottes at that clip felt like they had the right and freedom of speaking about their lives without shame of what others may believe. What is interesting about the verse form is the fact that Samantha herself does non look to be excessively disturbed about the manner her life has turned out, she seems unwisely hopeful that things might alter for the better. The fact is nevertheless, that the grounds that foremost dragged the adult female into harlotry are non likely to merely vanish. In an interview with the Guardian journalist, Emine Saner, a long-time sex worker told Saner that she would wish to be able to halt working, but does non cognize how else to pull off financially[ 14 ]. The importance of this verse form and besides ”Martina ” is the fact that even though both adult females have a deformed sense of ethical motives, the reader can non assist but experience slightly regretful for the characters and hence enabling them to see adolescent gestation and harlotry in a different visible radiation than normally portrayed by the media.

Adolescence and fairytale stereotypes

Harmonizing to Patience Agbabi herself, researching childhood traveling into adolescence is one of her favorite subjects. As every individual has been a child in the past and can state that pubescence is a really emotional clip of a individual ‘s life, it is hence no surprise that adolescence is an interesting subject for all authors and poets. In a life of a usual adolescent, adolescence is the clip of first love, detecting gender and for most misss the realization of the truth behind fairytale stereotypes. One of my personal front-runners, Agbabi ‘s verse form ”The Tiger ”[ 15 ]is an first-class portraiture of a rebellious teenage miss who is merely on her journey of detecting what life as an grownup is really similar. Majority of immature misss have a immense misconception about maturity, chiefly refering love affair.

” Tracy loves Darren. It was miss

power, 1979. He was my aerosol male child

and the swelling lettering, my lifebuoy.

We lasted a month. ”[ 16 ]

In the verse form, the immature miss gets a tattoo with the name of her first love. It is a really true word picture of immature people ‘ s apprehension of love, as they think it will last everlastingly merely like the tattoo. The world of the state of affairs hits childs normally when they gain more independency and duties, which besides marks the terminal of their pubescence. ”The Tiger ” shows the ordeal in an emotional and familiar manner, therefore doing the reader experience the angst of pubescence one time once more. In modern society, adolescence is widely discussed, as parents seem more and more clueless of what to make when their kid is acting in a rebellious affair. By giving the reader an penetration to the miss ‘s point of position, Agbabi one time once more enables people to see the job from a new angle.

” It takes an hr to kill girl meets boy

a minute for childhood to stop,

and for dark blue to melt to gray, a lifetime. ”[ 17 ]

With the concluding stanza of the verse form, Agbabi emphasizes once more the fact that emotions and state of affairss that all seemed so of import during old ages of pubescence, intend really small when compared to the remainder of a individual ‘s life. The 2nd verse form in Agbabi ‘s aggregation that besides deals with the jobs of fairytale stereotyping and more by and large, childs misconception of the life in front, is ”Leila ”[ 18 ]. This verse form is largely picturing the usual dream of a small miss, in her early old ages of adolescence, when she dreams about capturing princes and extraordinary nuptialss. This psychotic belief has been created by amusement industry, as kids are exposed to more and more sketchs, movies and playthings in a really early age. The thought behind this is to act upon the kids into desiring all kinds of consumer goods, but in add-on these films and playthings give the immature kids a deformed position of life which in later old ages may turn out to be a major obstruction on their manner of populating a fulfilled life. Developmental psychologists have long identified the fact that playing has a important affect on a kid ‘s development. During drama kids communicate with their universe and internalize elements of society, such as norms, values, and grownup functions. Children ‘s playthings have a immense consequence on their development of self-image and their construct of the society – one of the cardinal undertakings of childhood and adolescence[ 19 ]. It is to no surprise so, that the poet has chosen this subject as it sheds light and explains another group of adult females, who are enduring from some sort of societal issue.

” …

woolgathering all dark of her shoe-shine male child,

their diamond nuptials, that happy end-

ing. If she were a clip

she ‘d be midnight, when each kid paints the dark

with phantasy, when misss become adult females, male childs

become work forces and Once upon a clip… becomes The End. ”[ 20 ]

The last stanza of the verse form is demoing precisely Agbabi ‘s point that finally all people grow up and with that they besides have to turn out of fairy tales. No fairytale of all time shows the life of the supporters after the merrily of all time after, and hence holding unrealistic outlooks in one ‘s maturity to, for illustration, have a relationship that can be compared to a classical fairy tale, is a dream that in world will ne’er come true. The two verse forms of adolescence and fairytale stereotypes are non merely informative for the immature misss and adult females who are faced with the issue, but besides for those who as perceivers may non hold wholly understood or recognized it as a societal issue before.

Sexuality, sexual maltreatment and gender outlooks

Sexuality is most decidedly the most controversial and most covered subject that the poet has examined in her verse form aggregation ”Seven Sisters ” . Patience Agbabi, being a bisexual herself, gives a really interesting and slightly perceptive portraiture of a huge assortment of different adult females and their genders. Not merely does she discourse the genders of the adult females themselves, but besides gender outlooks amongst female parents, who besides wish for their kid to be of certain sex. Harmonizing to research workers kids are progressively more cognizant of their gender from an early age, for illustration harmonizing to the research of 2004 by the Guttmacher Institute, 46 % of teens in the United States between ages of 15-19 have had sex at least one time[ 21 ]. It is to no surprise so that gender is such a talked about subject around the universe these yearss. The job with immature kids and their gender is briefly discussed in the verse forms ”Martina ”[ 22 ]and ”The Tiger ”[ 23 ]. In the verse form ” The Tiger ” , Agbabi writes about the supporter losing her virginity at a really immature age, and therefore besides losing her childhood. In ”Martina ” , the chief character is presumptively around the age of 16, but has to turn up fast, and hence acquire in touch with her sexual side, because of the war. ”The more controversial portion of gender in ”Martina ” is the fact that even though the character is heterosexual, the storyteller is a sapphic, ” as said by the poet.[ 24 ]Sexual orientation has a really large portion to play in our sense of who we are and precisely where we belong. Even though no-one chooses their sexual orientation, there are still 1000000s of people who are strongly against homosexualism, or androgyny for that affair. As a stopping point to bosom subject for Agbabi, she chooses a really different angle to show her feelings about the societal issue refering gender. In her poem ”Ms de Meanour ”[ 25 ], the storyteller who is besides the chief character in the verse form, is a retarding force queen and in lively manner negotiations about her life of acting like a adult female, even though really being a adult male.

” Time

for male child

meets girl

in the mirror and wild kid

bitch with a gumshoe from Crouch End

becomes Wild West End

prima donna with dark

juicy ciliums. … . ”[ 26 ]

In my sentiment the poet is seeking to pull a comparing between cross-dressers and homosexual people, as both are concealing their true personality and gender for the benefit and content of others. Drag queens frock and act as adult females, for the intent of entertaining or executing. Homosexual people, on the other manus, need to sometimes conceal their penchants from other in fright of public disapprobation. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, force against homosexual population was increasing, even the lone ”wrong ” they have done is merely hold the bravery to demo difference from the bulk[ 27 ]. Fortunately during the last twosome of old ages, the state of affairs has improved, as for illustration in many states and in some provinces in Unites States, same-sex matrimonies are allowed and recognized by the authorities. Very closely connected with this subject, is gender outlooks which is another subject in Agbabi ‘s verse form. Centuries ago, it was important for a household to hold a boy, for the really obvious ground that a boy is stronger and was more helpful around the house. Not merely are at that place outlooks about the gender of the kid before it is born, but besides after. Parents assume their kids to turn up and follow the mode of behavior that is acceptable by the society. For a heterosexual twosome, who have certain outlooks for their kid, depending on the child ‘s sex, it is likely rather upseting to accept if the kid turns out to be homosexual for illustration. The verse form ”The Earth Mother ”[ 28 ], is set in a fairytale clip of ”Once upon a clip ” , where an old adult female craves for a boy and is ab initio defeated, when the kid she had already named ”Boy ‘ turned out to be a miss.

” … Old Woman named it Boy

and woolgather Earth, air current and fire, better times…

And here the narrative would stop

if small misss could genuinely chasten the dark

and small male childs were truly male childs, non misss.

Old Woman woke and saw her babe Boy was girl

and being wise, gave congratulations and raised this girl-child

… . ”[ 29 ]

The verse form is a absorbing attack to the topic, as the Old Woman represents most parents who wish their kid to turn up a certain manner they have imagined. It is besides educational, as in the verse form even though preliminary shocked to happen out that things had non gone every bit planned, the Old Woman still raised the kid without any ailments or declinations. In my sentiment, Agbabi is seeking to convert the reader that even when a kid does non turn up harmonizing to certain gender outlooks, it is no alibi to drive individual ‘ s ain flesh and blood.

A more terrific subject of gender in Agbabi ‘s verse form is child sexual maltreatment, which she writes about in the verse form ”Samantha ”[ 30 ], where the character is a immature 14 twelvemonth old miss, who was raped by her step-father and accordingly became a cocotte. Sexual maltreatment between grownups and kids, and furthermore between siblings, is unluckily non a ephemeral issue in today ‘s society. In 1994, 46 % of all colza instances reported, were victims of their household members.[ 31 ]

” … Pervs. Like my stepdad. I was still a kid

when he did it. Told her I was kiping with male childs

but she walked in on us that lunch period,

and called me a prostitute. Covetous bitch. I left that weekend.

Fourteen, and still scared of the dark. ”[ 32 ]

One of the most distressing facts about child sexual maltreatment is that in some occasions, the parents of the kids do n’t believe when their kid tells them about the colza or accuse the kid of being seductive and inquiring for being raped. In those instances, the parent is normally more concerned about the relationship with the maltreater than the wellbeing of their kid. Therefore it is no surprise, that after such ordeal, these kids end up running off from place and when making maturity suffer from low self-pride, sexual disfunction, troubles with holding a healthy relationships, depression, substance maltreatment and so on.[ 33 ]The candor of the chief character in the verse form, shows the reader the result of sexual maltreatment without any buffers, in its purest signifier which has proven to be the most efficient manner to acquire people acknowledge the earnestness of the state of affairs and make something about one of the most hideous jobs adult females have to travel through in their lives.


Patience Agbabi is a true-hearted women’s rightist, who in her verse form aggregation ”Seven Sisters ” writes about some of the most common societal issues adult females are faced with, without taking sides. In her ain words: ”As a women’s rightist, when I started out as a author there was a political force per unit area non to allow the side down. Womans were seeking equality and you had a responsibility as a author to demo adult females in the best possible visible radiation. But by this 2nd book, I let art instead than political relations lead the manner. ”[ 34 ]Even though there were many bigger and smaller issues discussed in the verse form, the subjects that prevailed and seemed to be most close to bosom for the poet, were adolescent gestation and harlotry, adolescences and fairytale stereotypes and in conclusion gender, sexual maltreatment and gender outlooks. The manner of portraying issues that are extremely talked about, doing them sound advanced and interesting, and in add-on happening something new to learn in all of the state of affairss is what makes the verse forms beautiful and perfectly deserving reading. Patience Agbabi draws the reader in with authorship in first individual narrative and hence lets the reader to place with these adult females and the troubles they face. Adolescent gestation and harlotry are frequently discussed from the point of view of the general media but what a regular individual does non hear frequently approximately is the other side of the narrative, the truth about the state of affairs. As the poet mentioned herself, she is non seeking to idealise these adult females or warrant their behavior and ethical motives, but instead give the reader a alteration to do up their ain determination about the characters. This applies to all of the subjects and characters discussed in ”Seven Sisters ” . As a whole the aggregation serves as a quick survey book for anyone interested in adult females – their jobs, their positions on society and how the society views them and most significantly it allows the reader to analyze the information without any outside influence, therefore coming to a decision that has its bases on the individual ‘s ain positions instead than the positions of person else.


Patience Agbabi – ”Transformatrix ”

Edinburgh: Payback Press. 2000.

Marilyn Hegarty – ”Victory Girls, Khaki-Wackies and Patriotutes: The ordinance of female gender during World War II ”

New York: NYU Press. 2007.

Claire Sterk – ”Tricking And Tripping, Prostitution In The Era Of AIDS ”

New York: Social Change Press. 2000.

Ken Moore – ”Anti-lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Violence in 2000 ”

New York: National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.2001.

Kluft – ”Incest-Related Syndromes of Adult Psychopathology ”

Washington: American Psyhiatric Press.1990.

Penelope Maza – ”Adoption Tendencies: 1944-1975 ”

US Children ‘s Bureau.1984.

Emine Saner – ”You ‘re accepting to being raped for money ”

Guardian.11th December 2007.

hypertext transfer protocol: //www.eduqna.com/Words-Wordplay/841-1-words-4.html

hypertext transfer protocol: //www.public.asu.edu/~kleong/adolescents % 20barbie.pdf

hypertext transfer protocol: //www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-ATSRH.html

hypertext transfer protocol: //www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx? dbName=DocumentViewer & A ; DocumentID=32315

Seven Sisters Unveiled


I discovered the sestina rather by accident. I was good known for being a Janis Joplin fan, the 60 ‘s stone star who lived fast and died immature of a diacetylmorphine overdose. I was peculiarly mesmerised by her rendering of Ball and Chain, a blues figure she performed at the Monteray dad festival in 1967. The friend gave me a transcript of a verse form called You Ca n’t Rhumboogie in a Ball and Chain ( for Janis Joplin ) . It was written by Alice Fulton, a poet I ‘d ne’er heard of. The verse form truly captured Janis ‘ spirit and I loved it. I besides loved the manner the words seemed to dance around each other. Of class, what I was reacting to subliminally was the signifier of the verse form, the signifier known as the sestina.

So what is a sestina? Like many poetic signifiers it has musical roots. It was invented by Arnaud Daniel ( whom Dante considered the best wordsmith ) . The signifier was originally sung by the top category folk singer, those who could get the hang the intricate signifier. The sestina is still seen as the most hard signifier to maestro in modern How to Write Poetry books. Basically, you have six words which appear in a set order at the terminal of each line. You have six stanzas of six lines each and a concluding stanza of three lines. It makes more sense when you see it on the page so here ‘s one I prepared earlier, the first one I wrote:


A poet friend from the US, Samantha Coerbell, reintroduced me to the sestina by giving me the six terminal words, clip, miss, terminal, kid, boy, dark. They instantly suggested to me a verse form about the passing of clip, adolescence, coming of age with dark undertones. I did n’t analyze it excessively closely. One twenty-four hours I went to the Poetry Library in London with a twosome of hours to save. I decided to compose a sestina. It was supposed to be hard but I believed it could n’t be that difficult. I managed to compose something I was moderately pleased with in that two hours. It made sense and it has a narrative line. I knew it was a first bill of exchange that needed more work but it was a reasonably good first bill of exchange as first bill of exchanges go. Like the Alice Fulton verse form, I besides adhered to 10-syllable lines. Traditional English sestinas are written in iambic pentameter.

I enjoyed the authorship experience, utilizing the word repetitions as a signifier of rime and idea:

WHAT IF 100 people got given the same six terminal words. Imagine the difference in the verse form they ‘d bring forth. Yet each verse form would hold a relationship to the following due the fit repeat of the terminal words. Each verse form would execute the same dance to a different melody. I so decided to ship on the ‘Seven Sisters ‘ undertaking. I gave myself a twelvemonth but finally found myself composing one sestina a month. I wanted sufficient spreads between verse forms so they ‘d be really different. I intentionally did n’t reread ‘finished ‘ pieces – I got to a bill of exchange phase where I knew they worked so set them in the booklet.

THE Title

Seven Sisters ‘ was chiefly wordplay on the signifier, sestina. Traditional sestinas used to denote themselves e.g. Elizabeth Bishop ‘s Sestina. I decided each verse form would be the name of a adult female. I ‘d already acquire the rubric for the aggregation, Transformatrix, so knew that my primary subject was adult females undergoing some signifier of transmutation. I besides wanted to experiment with poetic signifier so this sequence would be the centerpiece of the book.


I kept the exact same order of terminal words in the first six stanzas for all seven verse forms. I allowed myself flexibleness with the minister plenipotentiaries, for the interest of my ain saneness and besides to add fluctuation with the really last word of each verse form. I wanted to complete utilizing all the terminal words and managed to accomplish this in the order: terminal kid boy dark clip girl terminal. I intentionally used terminal twice – the first verse form ended with the word terminal, and I wanted the last 1 to besides.

It was of import for the verse forms to look different on the page. When you ‘re composing ( or reading ) seven sestinas you need such fluctuation e.g. Ms De Meanour is right justified and The Tiger is written more in paragraphs than in stanzas. Although signifier ab initio dictated content, content finally edited the signifier.


The first verse form was an experiment. Can I make this? With subsequent verse forms I thought much more profoundly about the content. The words male child and miss were peculiarly helpful. I knew they would execute a dating rite in some verse forms e.g. Martina, The Tiger, and Leila but I ‘d besides be able to research alternate genders e.g. Martina, The Tiger, and Ms De Meanour, the retarding force queen. You have an sapphic undertone in Martina, Martina herself is heterosexual but the storyteller is a sapphic ; corruption of the antique phrase male child meets girl in The Tiger where I turn it around It takes an hr to kill girl meets boy ; and of class, a dramatic corruption of the same phrase in Ms De Meanour Time/for boy/meets girl/ in the mirror. Artistically, it was really of import to demo a broad scope of adult females – the signifier may be fixed but the content surely was n’t.

It was besides of import non to merely demo positive female function theoretical accounts. As a women’s rightist, when I started out as a author there was a political force per unit area non to allow the side down. Womans were seeking equality and you had a responsibility as a author to demo adult females in the best possible visible radiation. But by this 2nd book, I let art instead than political relations lead the manner. The Tiger, my front-runner, portrays the bad miss in school, the type of miss who kept good misss like me entertained. Maybe it was postfeminism to observe her, non as a positive female function theoretical account but as a strong adult female who knew her ain head. Similarly, Samantha is a cocotte with a manner with words.

The conversational, first individual narrative invites the reader to place with these adult females, to bask their spirit anad humor, to sympathize with them in malice of their ethical motives. I did n’t originally set out to make soliloquies but the sestina, with its repeat of end-words, lends itself good to retroflexing natural address in poesy. We all repeat ourselves for accent. One of the most celebrated sestinas, Ezra Pound ‘s Sestina: Altaforte is a lively soliloquy.

The word kid would besides execute a dance with miss and male child. I could research childhood traveling into adolescence, a favorite subject of mine that occurs in other verse forms in the aggregation e.g. The Abrasion and The Sting. I could look at the birth of a kid and gender expections e.g. The Earth Mother or have the miss and male child have a kid as in Samantha.

The word clip enabled me to do inventive springs in clip e.g. Martina is set in the Second World War, The Tiger 1979 to 1980 and The Earth Mother in the fairytale universe of Once upon a clip… dark suited my poetic esthesia, I ‘m a fan of movie noir, black-and-white mobster movies from the 40s and 50s. I like shadows and turns and bends in secret plan. When it comes to art I like the Moody and the bluesy. Finally, terminal was a storytelling gift: I had the contrast of miss and male child, I could besides stop the sequence with and Once upon a clip… becomes The End.


How make the texts confirm and dispute traditional premises about the functions of work forces and adult females ( Earth Mother + Samantha + Ms De Meanour ) . The Earth Mother is written in traditional fairy narrative manner and sets up a traditional scenario – a adult female desiring a boy to make what boys and work forces are supposed to make, chop wood etc. But the manner she conjures up the kid and the turn in the narrative subvert all. In The Colour Purple, Celie is black, hapless, ugly and a adult female. She ‘s a caterpillar who grows wings. Both Misters conform to pigeonhole but Harpo ‘s good at cookery, Nettie and the immature African miss are bright, Shug negotiations like a adult male etc etc.


Both texts explore coming of age, adult females detecting their gender ( Cider With Rosie ‘s First Bite of the Apple ) .

How make the texts confirm and dispute traditional premises about adult females ‘s gender?

( Martina + Ms De Meanour )


Compare and contrast how form enhances theme/content? ( The Tiger + all ) . In The Colour Purple, the epistolatory signifier, the initial Dear God letters do n’t experience like letters. They ‘re more diary. In fact, for me, the signifier disappears. It feels like reading a trad novel with a clever but uneducated storyteller. The usage of the slang is really strong. It ‘s merely when they become existent letters from Nettie, that you ‘re cognizant you ‘re reading a missive, an confidant yet enlightening text as opposed to a first individual narrative. There is a existent turning point when Celie starts to compose to Nettie alternatively of God, begins to oppugn with Shug, who God is. The sestina signifier is polar to the subjects of ‘Seven Sisters ‘ yet is ( hopefully ) unnoticeable. The soliloquies are about uncovering character every bit much as stating a narrative. Each verse form is related to the other through the signifier. Yet sometimes the signifier is subverted. Just as Walker subverts the epistolatory signifier by composing to God, I subvert the sestina by making a sequence, altering the format.


Both texts usage fairy narrative motives e.g. Celie is ugly duckling transformed to a vibrant, attractive adult female. Besides, there ‘s a touch of the Cinderella narrative – the downtrodden Celie meets her ( fine-looking prince ) Shug. How do the texts usage and subvert fairy tale stereotypes?

( Leila + Martina, The Earth Mother, Ms De Meanour and Samantha )