Author: Margaret Atwood
Published: 10 November 2020
Content Warnings: death, violence, rape, sexual assault, misogyny
I’m going to be upfront and state my bias right away. I have a difficult time with Margaret Atwood. Much of her feminism is grounded in white feminism (intersectionality is not a consideration) and is stuck in the 90s and early 2000s time of feminism movements. There have been bad moments in recent years with Atwood in regards to sexual assault victims and the #metoo movement. But lately, I’ve been annoyed with the past couple of months of white women in Texas (and other states) using the red robes from The Handmaid’s Tale to protest against Texas abortion laws. Do I support the 6-week abortion law Texas has implemented? No, of course I do not! But, the part that annoys me is that white women are not recognizing or admitting that this is something that has been happening to our Black and Indigenous shes, theys, and galaxy of stars people. Basically, I’d just liker her to have a bit more nuance.
With that out of the way, I do want to say that this collection of poems was interesting. It’s still the typical feminism that you’d expect from Atwood (one poem is about an older woman teaching a group of girl students about menstruations). There is also this idea of age and the identity of older women that is threaded throughout the collection that is quite interesting.
The collection had some hits and misses for me, but I do recognize that I’m probably not her target audience as I’m still in my 20s and not yet an “older” person (nor a woman). I do like the themes of memory, aging, death (I’ll always be fascinated by death), climate change, and others that I cannot remember right now that she infused in her poetry. But again I think my issue goes back to what I said in my bias about Atwood herself. There is still not a lot of discussion, or even acknowledgement, about the difference between white women and black or indigenous women. Again, I want to make clear, I don’t think it is her place to talk about black identity or black women identity. But an acknowledgement that there is a difference wouldn’t be hard or out of line.
The verdict for me is that I didn’t hate it but it’s not something I’d really recommend to anyone. Unless they were specifically an older white woman looking for poetry, then I’d say go get this.
If you want to know more about what I was referencing about her past actions with sexual assault victims and the #metoo movement, here is an article that talks about it.
Happy Reading Darlings!