Sunday, June 24, 2012

Top 10 passionate women writers

In 2006 Pamela Norris published Words of Love: Passionate Women from Heloise to Sylvia Plath...and named her ten favorite writers from the book.

One writer on the list:
Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

By her mid-20s, Edna St Vincent Millay had acquired a reputation as a beauty, a talented, a risqué poet and a shocking flirt. The "It-girl of the hour", as one contemporary described her, began her lifelong fascination with romantic love as a teenager. Unrecognized and unfulfilled, the lonely girl conjured her dream lover with candle and incantation, like some medieval seductress rehearsing her midsummer rites of love. Later, lovers would come in droves, moths attracted to the flame of this alluring redhead. Later still, when already married to a devoted husband, she would fall in love with a much younger man, and celebrate their affair in a cycle of sonnets that unflinchingly describe their unequal passion.

Millay often upset her lovers by what they regarded as her 'masculine' attitude to sex: an ability to flit from lover to lover without commitment. Her poems reveal an honesty about the gulf between sexual desire and love that is as refreshing now as it was scandalous in the early 1920s. When she did fall in love, Millay committed herself with a vengeance, but her poet-self was always present, a canny watcher, pen in hand.
Read about another writer Norris tagged for the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue