On a recent panel about “The Poetry of Human Rights” at a Women’s Learning Partnership conference, one of my fellow panelists spoke of how the fact that we are women necessarily imbues our art with a political nature, whether or not the work is explicitly political. In that vein, I am thrilled to present poetry by the nine women in this issue, which is my first since joining Beltway Poetry Quarterly as co-editor. These poets have two things in common—their connection to the DC area and gender. Beyond that, they are an incredibly diverse group of women.
Some of these poems bear witness to lived experiences that have, at long last, begun receiving critical attention—such as Mary Stone Hanley’s invocation of “Amadou, Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, Eric, Sandra, all” in the first poem of the issue, “Black Matters;” Tyler Vile’s candor in speaking about her body as a trans woman in “Sex Hex” and “Uterus;” and human rights attorney Sunu Chandy’s juxtaposition of a lighthearted experience among cousins with reflections on migrations across country borders in “Just Act Normal.”
Other poems translate histories we may not know into evocations we can access through poetry—like Elizabeth Acevedo’s “The Last Cacique” about the indigenous Taino woman leader Anacaona; Sarah D. Lawson’s meditation on the Jewish custom of celebrating a girl’s bat mitzvah in “Thirteen;” and Meta DuEwa Jones’s conclusion to the issue, which includes “Black Hymnal,” a poem dedicated to one of the four young girls killed in the 16th Street Church bombing in Alabama in 1963.
I am honored to present “Nine Women Poets.” I am also pleased to announce that Kim Roberts and I have joined others answering the call by Pakistani writer Kamila Shamsie to commit to a “Year of Publishing Women” in 2018.
May you enjoy this first collection of poems by a range of women’s voices as much as I have,
Gowri Koneswaran is a queer Tamil American writer, performing artist, teacher, and lawyer. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, environmental protection, the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused in the U.S., and justice accountability in Sri Lanka. She is poetry coordinator at the nonprofit arts organization BloomBars and a fellow of the Asian American literary organization Kundiman. Previously, she was senior poetry editor at Jaggery and co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. has co-authored two peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and her poetry has been published in Bourgeon and Lantern Review. Koneswaran has performed her poetry at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Capital Fringe Festival, and universities in the U.S. and Canada. To read more by this author: Four Poems, Spring 2011, and Langston Hughes Issue.