Reviews||

She is Fierce edited by Ana Sampson

5th Oct 2018

★★★★★
She is Fierce edited by Ana Sampson
It’s a good time to be a woman who writes - or reads - poetry, with women achieving more success and visibility in the genre than ever before.

Whether you’re new to poetry and not sure where to begin, or simply want a beautiful collection to dip in and out of, She Is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women is a great addition to your reading list.

Released to coincide with the centenary of some women achieving the vote, She Is Fierce is a pleasingly diverse collection of voices, arranged by themes such as love, growing up, endings and resistance.

Editor Ana Sampson has clearly taken great care in choosing the 150 poems that make up this collection, with a wide range of cultures, socioeconomic classes, sexualities and eras represented.

Those who are new to poetry will still recognise some classic names – Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy and Charlotte Bronte to name but a few – and effort has been made to include women writers dating back as far as Sappho.

There is also a healthy representation of the new generation of poets who have found success online and through spoken word, including Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish and Yrsa Daley-Ward, and plenty of names I hadn’t come across before. Even if you are a poetry expert, it’s highly likely that you’ll discover a hidden gem or rising star in this collection.

A reminder of the bravery and beauty of women across the world and throughout historyThe decision by Anna Sampson to organise the poems by their theme rather than ordering them chronologically has a democratising effect, allowing the reader to see the common threads that weave through women’s lives throughout the centuries.

Sappho’s ‘Long Departure’ and Jackie Kay’s ‘Fiere’, for instance, written two and a half centuries apart, sit on adjacent pages and echo each other’s sentiment of nostalgia for a friendship.

This thoughtful composition gives a sense of cohesiveness to the diverse writers on offer, honouring our similarities as well as our differences.

The book itself is beautiful, with an eye-catching red and orange design and ribbon bookmark in the hardback edition and a quote from Maya Angelou on the back – it would make a wonderful gift for any feminist reader or writer.

The inclusion of a short biography on each writer is a great addition, and the pioneering spirits and bravery of so many of the women featured are as inspiring as the poems themselves.

At a time where women can celebrate great strides forward but still face appalling injustices in many areas (particularly if they are people of colour, poor, LGBT+ et cetera), She Is Fierce is a reminder of the bravery and beauty of women across the world and throughout history.