Women Writers Get Some Well-Deserved Kudos
Posted by Claire Messud
February 10, 2010
Women make up 80 percent of the fiction reading audience in this country. So why, guest fiction editor Claire Messud asks, are women authors so frequently left off the best-of lists, and left out of prestigious book prizes?
The great twentieth-century American poet Elizabeth Bishop refused to be included in anthologies of women’s poetry, insisting that she was a poet plain and simple, rather than a “woman poet.” She wrote that “art is art and to separate writings, paintings, musical compositions, etc. into two sexes is to emphasize values that are not art.”
As an American writer of the early twenty-first century, I agree with her wholeheartedly. An artist’s work is in no way limited or defined by her gender. To allot space, then—such as this fiction section of Guernica—to women writers specifically is, surely, to limit and define them—us!—by an irrelevant fact of birth. Why not, at that point, organize a fiction section comprised of blue-eyed Capricorns from Atlanta?
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By Claire Messud
Photo Credit: Metro.co.uk