Sunday, April 7, 2013

Elizabeth Daryush Day for 2013: Women in Syllabic Poetry

Today is Elizabeth Daryush Day (12-8-1887 to 4-7-1977).  Daryush is one of the significant pioneers in the use of syllabics for English language poetry.  I am particularly taken by her syllabic approach to the sonnet.

Because it's slow at the store, I'm going to take a moment to note in passing something I have observed about syllabic poetry in English: that is the prominence of women poets writing syllabics.  Consider:

Adelaide Crapsey: The first poet to propose a syllabic form for the English language.
Edith Shiffert: A fine syllabic haijin and renga poet.
Marianne Moore: Who is famous for her syllabic approach.
Helen Craig McCullough: Who used a consistent syllabic approach in English in her translations of Japanese poetry.
Etheree Taylor Armstrong: Who proposed the Etheree syllabic form.
Susan August: A contemporary syllabic haijin.

It's not that syllabic English poetry is only women; but notice the prominence of women.  There are, of course, significant male syllabic poets; the most important is, I think, Richard Wright.  And Wright is known for having a deep empathy for women, which comes through in his Haiku as well as his other writings.

Again, there are important male syllabic poets, such as James Hackett.  Still, the pivotal role that women have played in English syllabic verse is worth noting.  I'm not sure what it means or if there is some significance to be extracted from this.


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