10 Female Poets That Inspire Us In 2022
Inspiring Women Poets To Read
“May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve.”
– Sappho ( c. 630 – c. 570 BC)
Poetry, like so many art forms, has a way of expressing the inexpressible and exposing human nature through musical rhythms, vivid imagery, and powerful metaphors. Throughout history, female poets have used their voices to be catalysts for social and political change, and their words are just as important today as they ever have been.
There are countless volumes of poetry written by women and non-binary people who deserve our praise and adoration, but we took some time to select some of the ones most inspiring us at this moment in time. These impactful poets range from the late 1800s all the way to the modern digital age, each with a different message that will inspire you to take action in your own life, to ignite social and political change, to reach out to a friend, or to take a stand for the environment we all share.
If you’re new to poetry and want a little guidance, you can find our guide to reading poetry here. Or if you’re inspired and ready to pick up a pen, here’s everything you need to know about how to write poetry as a self-care practice!
Maya Angelou is essential reading: her political activism shines brightly through her words and inspires action. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama for her political and literary work.
To Read | Phenomenal Woman, Still I Rise, Caged Bird
Learn more about Maya Angelou
For the nature lovers, Mary Oliver’s powerfully feminine poetry inspires quiet moments of reflections based on everyday occurrences. Her poems begin grounded in the real, natural world and turn simple moments into impactful and beautiful life lessons.
To Read | Wild Geese, Breakage, Hummingbirds
Learn more about Mary Oliver
Audre Lorde was a passionate poet, dedicated to confronting the social injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia through her work. Her poetry is powerfully rooted in her experiences as a black woman, a lesbian, a mother, and a lifelong warrior for equality.
To Read | A Woman Speaks, Recreation, Who Said It Was Simple
Learn more about Audre Lorde
Rupi Kaur is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who you’ve most likely stumbled across on Instagram. She’s a celebrated poet and stunning illustrator, and her concise, impactful words on womanhood and relationships will cut straight to your deepest emotions.
To Read | Celebration, [you tell me], [how is it so easy for you]
Learn more about Rupi Kaur
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
One of Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s poems is called “Things Haunt,” which is the perfect way to describe her poetry: haunting, beautiful, powerful. She explores gender and the experience of being born in a human body—and reminds us all how connected our personal histories are to history as a whole.
To Read | This Is What Makes Us Worlds, Death Before Detransition, It Is Important To Be Something
Learn more about Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Despite being the oldest poet on this list, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s work carries a wit and strength with it, making it timeless and accessible still today. Her work doesn’t shy away from issues of female expression, sexuality, or political progressivism.
To Read | The Penitent, Departure, Modern Declaration
Learn more about Edna St. Vincent Millay
As a feminist and a devotee of protecting our environment, Marge Piercy’s work is not subtle about the changes she wants to see in the world. Her work is grounded in nature and empowering in it’s calls to political and environmental action.
To Read | The birthday of the world, To be of use, More Than Enough
Learn more about Marge Piercy
Adrienne Rich’s powerful work spanned seven decades, and grew throughout her career into an influential feminist statement in free verse. Her poems range from straightforward to experimental, and she is a prominent figure in anti-war and pro-feminist movements thanks to her poetic political critique.
To Read | A Mark of Resistance, What Kind of Times Are These, Planetarium
Learn more about Adrienne Rich
Rita Dove is a Pulitzer prize-winning poet whose work pulls from her personal history and other art forms to weave enchanting stories and create wildly vivid images. At just forty years old, she was named US Poet Laureate in 1993, the youngest to date.
To Read | Demeter’s Prayer To Hades, Adolescence-II, I Have Been a Stranger in a Strange Land
Learn more about Rita Dove
Known for being able to say a lot within a concise poem, Lucille Clifton is a powerful poet to have on hand when you only have a few moments to read (and re-read) a poem. Her celebrated and award-winning poetry boldly celebrates women and explores African American family life and experience.
To Read | homage to my hips, poem in praise of menstruation, won’t you celebrate with me
Learn more about Lucille Clifton
Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits, or gaming.