of semi-famous women

I’ve been thinking yesterday. You know what would be fun? Creating a chapbook of poems in the voices of women who didn’t get to speak for themselves or who should be better known than they are. I already have the “Deborah Milton speaks(one of my all-time favorites of my own things) and the villanelle “Cecily Neville’s Farewell”. I’ve been working on a Mercy Otis Warren one, though I’m not happy with it at present. (Too much about Abigail Adams, too little Mercy.) I don’t know if I’ll do the chapbook but it’s fun to think about. One problem is, I understand how to create a chapbook, but damned if I can figure out what I’d do with it after that. Send copies to my relatives? Put it on Amazon via Lulu and hope 3 people would buy one? Sell them at the poetry readings I don’t do? I suppose there’s always the option to just make it a webpage.

I mentioned it on the Ravelry forum “This is What A Feminist Knits Like” and got a bunch of other women suggested. Not all draw me to write about them, but they were fascinating to read about, like Henrietta Lacks, whose cells (taken without her consent) have outlived her and are used for all kind of experiments; Laura Clay, a Kentucky feminist who was born fifteen years before the Civil War and lived long enough to vote, and who got an amazing amount accomplished on the rights of women to be free people – everything from married women’s property rights to equal pay for teachers to the vote in Kentucky), to my favorite, Oney Judge, who escaped slavery and her owner George Washington and lived in New Hampshire as a free woman. Actually, the poem I’d like to write would be for one of Oney’s daughters, who spent their whole lives being legally liable to deportation and return to the Custis estates. (I also would like the chance to mention Joseph Whipple, the customs collector who refused to return her against her will, or Senator Langdon, who after learning over dinner of Washington’s nephew’s plan to abduct Judge, leaked the plan to her and warned her to go into hiding. Sometimes it’s easy to forget there have been men in every era who regarded women as people.)

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