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10 Feminist Poets to Celebrate this World Poetry Day

We welcome every opportunity to celebrate the inspirational women and girls who help improve our world, and March 21, World Poetry Day, provides one of those opportunities. 

Below are ten notable poets who use the written word to address tough issues, spread hope, and inspire the masses. We hope you’ll take time today to read one or two poems by a poet you’re unfamiliar with and share your favorite quotes on social media. 

Society benefits from hearing different perspectives; it allows for personal growth and education, a more expansive worldview, and increased empathy. By reading and sharing this World Poetry Day, you’ll do more than support the incredible women listed here; you’ll be supporting a stronger society that values the thoughts and opinions of women. 

As you go through the below list, consider these questions:

  • What quote(s) resonate with you and why?
  • How can you apply what you’ve read and learned to your own life?
  • If everyone in your community read your poem or quote of choice, what do you think would be the impact?

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Maya Angelou was multi-faceted: an internationally recognized poet, writer, director, dancer, and more. She wrote collections of poetry and essays, autobiographies, including ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ and even a cookbook. In 2010, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters.”

Angelou, M. (2008). Letter to My Daughter. In Letter to my Daughter (1st ed., p. xii). introduction, Random House. Retrieved March 18, 2024,.
Margaret Atwood at the Make Equality Reality Gala in 2018

Margaret Atwood (1939-)

Margaret Atwood is a poet and writer known for several bestsellers including ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and its sequel ‘The Testaments.’ Her skills extend beyond writing and include other art forms such as illustrations. Margaret was honored at Equality Now’s Make Equality Reality Gala in 2018.

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). Margaret Atwood. Encyclopædia Britannica.

Additional Margaret Atwood quotes can be found on Equality Now’s website.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Emily Dickinson wrote almost 1,800 poems, though only ten were published in her lifetime. Her work has been translated into multiple languages. A museum dedicated to Emily was established in 2003.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.”

Dickinson, E. (n.d.). Hope is the thing with feathers (254).

Bernadine Evaristo (1959-)

Bernadine Evaristo is a bestselling author who has written poetry, verse fiction, and more. She’s received many honors throughout her career, including being named in the Forbes ‘50 over 50’ list in 2022.

“[G]ender is one of the biggest lies of our civilization.”

Girl, Woman, Other Quotes. Goodreads. (n.d.).

Amanda Gorman (1998-)

Amanda Gorman is a poet and activist. She was named National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 and read her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at Biden’s Inauguration in 2021.

“[A] truth: that you can’t stop a dreamer / or knock down a dream.”

Gorman, A. (n.d.). In This Place (An American Lyric).
Rupi Kaur at the Make Equality Reality Gala in 2023

Rupi Kaur (1992-)

Rupi Kaur is a poet and illustrator. Her collections of poems, including ‘milk and honey,’ have reached millions worldwide and have been translated into dozens of languages. She joined and read her work at Equality Now’s Make Equality Reality Gala in 2023.

“[I] can live without romantic love / but I can’t survive without / the women I call friends.”

Rupi Kaur [rupikaur_]. (2023, July 15). there’s something sacred and medicinal about being in the company of women. it’s the being understood without having to explain yourself. the laughter. the looks we give each other the require no words. this poem on page 71 of ‘home body’ was just the beginning of me writing about female friendships. i’ve been writing more and more recently and i can’t wait for you to read it. [Photograph].

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

Audre Lorde wrote prose and poems on important topics like her battle with breast cancer and racial justice. She was a fierce advocate and participated in and supported women’s movements.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

BlackPast. (2012, August 12). (1981) Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism.” (1981) Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism.”

Len Pennie (1999-)

Len Pennie is a bestselling poet who writes about difficult topics like domestic and online abuse and mental illness. She recently released a collection of poems titled ‘poyums.’

“‘No’ is a / sentence that’s full / on its own”

The Art of Rejection. (2023). YouTube. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from

Kae Tempest (1985-)

Kae Tempest is an artist, writer, and more, who’s published poetry and nonfiction. In 2014, they were named a Next Generation Poet.

“You are more man when you break and weep.”

Tempest, K. (n.d.). Man Down. The Poetry Archive.

Alice Walker (1944-)

Alice Walker is an internationally recognized writer and poet. She’s written novels, including ‘The Color Purple,’ short story collections, and poems. Her work can be found in dozens of languages.

“Yes, we are the 99% / all of us / refusing to forget / each other / no matter, in our hunger, what crumbs / are dropped by / the 1%.”

Walker, A. (n.d.). The World We Want Is Us.

This World Poetry Day, thank you for continuing to uphold Equality Now’s vision of a world where women and men have equal rights under the law and fully enjoy their human rights. Too many women’s and girls’ voices are restricted or silenced, bringing harm to entire communities worldwide. This is not just the case for poetry, but art in all forms.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts shared that an “analysis of 18 major U.S. art museums found their collections are 87% male” and “85% white.” In an Equality Now interview with Shahzia Sikander, a visual artist, she speaks to the lack of female representation in the art community and resistance to self-expression in Pakistan in the 1980s. Judy Chicago, an artist and writer, says, “…for centuries, women have struggled to be heard, writing books, making art and music, and challenging the many restrictions on women’s lives. But their achievements have been repeatedly written out of history.”

We need female poets and artists; their voices speak to their unique experiences but also hold universal truths and insights that might otherwise go unnoticed in a male-dominated space.

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