Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Gender

"What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
  Snips and snails

  And puppy-dogs' tails

That's what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
  Sugar and spice
  And everything nice [or "all things nice"]
That's what little girls are made of
         Nursery Rhyme (@1820) 

“…gender is not sane. It's not sane to call a rainbow black and white.” 

Transgender pride flag
Transgender Pride flag

“Moving heavy objects allowed me to feel manly in the eyes of other men." 
― David SedarisMe Talk Pretty One Day

"I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they’re the first to be rescued off sinking ships." Gilda Radner

If we don't place the straitjacket of gender roles on young children, 
we give them space to reach their full potential.” 
― Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieDear Ijeawele,

"I'm A  Man" Muddy Waters, Bo, and Little Walter

Midweek Motif ~ Gender

When Maya Angelou wrote her wonderful praise poem "Phenomenal Women," it was revolutionary ~ both defiant and fun. Has a praise poem erupted of similar strength for men and other gender identities? If not, why not? 

On the one hand, I suspect that men have not had to assert themselves against prevailing mis-definition and oppression. And transgendered and nonbinary persons have just begun to find their voices of praise. Those who have spoken mention great difficulties, pain and fear for life and safety.

On the other hand, I suspect these praise poems exist and I don't know where to find them.

The times are a'changing.  

Your Challenge:  Write a new praise poem on the experience of gender.  

"I'm a Woman" Koko Taylor

Related Poem Content Details

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. 
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them, 
They think I’m telling lies. 
I say, 
It’s in the reach of my arms, 
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman 
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me. 

I walk into a room 
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man, 
The fellows stand or 
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me, 
A hive of honey bees.   
I say, 
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman 

Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me. 

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me. 
They try so much 
But they can’t touch 
My inner mystery. 
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say, 
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile, 
The ride of my breasts, 
The grace of my style. 
I’m a woman 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me. 

Now you understand 
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about 
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing, 
It ought to make you proud. 
I say, 
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman 
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me.
(Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.)

I Hear America Singing

Related Poem Content Details

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck, 
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, 
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, 
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, 
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, 
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
"Identifying as Awesome" Comic

 Page from A Guide to Gender by Sam Killermann

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
                       (Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~ April )


  1. Thank you, Susan, for selecting this unique topic, given the current political climate, in the United States, and other countries. As a transsexual (male to female), only wish that it was happier times, for my community, as a whole. May this week's motif, be one of those steps, towards understanding and support to the trans-community, as a whole.

    1. Sigh...would it be possible to remove entry #2, as it's a double entry.

  2. Thanks for another prompt - sorry if I can't get back to yours just yet..

  3. Good morning, dear Poets United! I am at my parents house where I always sleep better and eat better. That's me excuse for waking late this time.

    I'm here for almost a week, though, so don't worry about me taking the half hour now and then all day long. They love that I am a poet who knows poets. They think "gender" is a dangerous topic, which surprised me. Does that surprise you? Of course, they're in their 90s ...

    1. Ha, I remember how conventional my grandparents were. My grandma referred to my grandpa as Mr Marr, when talking about him to her friends, their entire lives. I can well imagine it is a topic that once was not discussed. It is good to talk about it now, as so many suffer from discrimination for simply being who they are.

  4. Hi everyone, I am very busy with work and will have to miss out this week's motif (although my poem would have been about grammatical gender - the primary meaning of the word for anyone who has studied languages - so perhaps it is just as well that I am too busy to write it! :-)

    1. I would enjoy that very much. We are supposed to be using a singular they!

    2. Dear Nicholas, I hope you might write that one for the next Poetry Pantry.

  5. Hi kids, hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday. (I cant get over how quickly the weeks zip by!)

    1. Especially when you are enjoying each day, yes?

  6. Hello Everyone!! Happy Wednesday to all..... !!!

  7. Its 8:02 PM here in T&T wishing all a good Wednesday evening

    much love...

  8. Perhaps I am subverting the prompt – then again, perhaps not.

    1. Off topic....just saw the news....Worst flood in 40 years. Keep safe, keep dry. I know you have plenty of supplies.Should be over in the next couple of days.
      Take care.

      To those who don't know...Rosemary is trapped in a flooded town in Northern NSW

    2. You never stray far from the heart, dear Rosemary. Praying for the rains to stop and the waters to recede in Australia.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I wasn't going to link, but I decided to anyway. I'm going to break the rules only that I wrote this in 2015 but never published it until today. It's a perfect poem for the gender prompt I hope you don't mind this once! Big hug!

    1. Thanks for "confessing," Bekkie, and for your poem! Every once in a while poets bend the rules for such a good reason as this. Otherwise the challenge is to use who you are today and all that this day contains as well as elements of the prompt itself to inspire you. Thank you for the occasion to remind everyone of the reasons for writing something new.

  11. Hi,
    Nice to be here again, and see you all.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Biswajit, I have tried to comment at your blog but it keeps telling me I have made invalid entries – which I have not, I promise you. Everything was cited correctly. I have had trouble before trying to comment on your poems and I am not willing to keep on spending so much time trying and failing the complicated process you have set up. Is it possible for you to find an easier and more efficient option for commenters?

    2. It is complex, but with luck and persistence, I made it through the maze. Whew! If you can simplify that would be great. I'm so happy you are here.

    3. So sorry, feeling bad, I am!
      Removing all barriers. Just now.

      I'll report here back when done.
      Please then come once again?

    4. Hello,
      Rosemary, I'm sure the maze won't trouble you anymore.
      Done: No verification, neither restriction.

      Only 'email' field expects the pattern:
      If that troubles you may leave blank. But if possible please enter.
      Now gift my work the due comment?

      Susan, thank you very much for reaching beyond that maze to tell me how you felt.



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