In these days . . . so many ingenious traps for catching and hamstringing female poets have been invented that it is a rare editor who ever really sees one.
H.L. Mencken, Memoirs of an Editor
I set a snare before the door
of a shoppe that brewed its coffee bitter.
An Adrienne Rich-type took the bait,
and scurried through where the deadfall hit her.
She was stunned, to say the least,
her poetic gifts, for the time, suspended;
her close-cropped hair couldn’t go awry
but her derriere was, of course, upended.
“Why’d you do that?” she finally asked
when sense and sensibility returned.
“Has a bounty been offered to those who trap
a female poet, by passion burned?”
“Sorry,” I said, “just doing my job,
don’t think of me as your natural predator.
I was asked to capture all feral bardettes
by an overworked, underpaid poetry editor.”
“I assume,” she said, “that you speak of a he,
a man with a plan to bar feminine verse.”
“Uh, yeh,” I replied, “it’s an editing guy
who decreed that distaff stuff’s the worst.”
“What about Dickinson, what about Moore?
What about Sappho, to give you one more?
What about Edna St. Freaking Millay?
I could name you so many you’d probably get bored.”
“Sure, they’re fine, each in her way,”
I danced in response, I practically pavaned her.
“The problem is not just the poems in themselves,
They’re written on paper that’s scented with lavender.”