Representations of Gender in Poetry

12 May

I am keen to explore poetic representations of gender with my Year 10 class.   I am particularly keen to explore representations of women in poetry, not least of all because we have spent much of the year thus far learning about male characters in texts composed by men.

However, I am finding it difficult to select poems that offer interesting representations of gender without touching on subjects that are either not considered to be age appropriate, or would be seen by parents as pushing an agenda contrary to the religious/cultural/community beliefs of my students’ families.  For example, I would love to show my class ‘I think she was a she‘ by Leyla Josephine, pairing it with ‘The Mother‘ by Gwendolyn Brooks’.  However, I am not convinced, given what I know about my students’ backgrounds, that parents would be comfortable with their 15 and 16 years old children studying poetry that explores abortion.

As such, and as much as it limits my ability to encourage students to engage with a broad range of gendered perspectives and experiences, I think I am going to need to keep looking.

8 Responses to “Representations of Gender in Poetry”


  1. Poems that pack a serious feminist punch | Once uPUN a time... - May 13, 2015

    […] searching for poetry with a feminist stance, I stumbled upon this Huffington Post article (‘I think she was a she,’ which I […]


  2. ‘Phenomenal Woman’ | Once uPUN a time... - May 14, 2015

    […] think I have found the first poem to include in my Poetic Representations of Gender unit for Year 10.  What is it?  Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal […]


  3. Feminist poets | Once uPUN a time... - May 20, 2015

    […] Further to earlier posts about searching for poems for a Year 10 poetry unit about poetic representations of gender, I recently came across a list outlining 10 important feminist poets and their key contributions to the field of poetry.   I was relieved to see that Maya Angelou and her poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ make this list.  As noted in a previous post, I am seriously considering teaching this poem to my Year 10 class, and I am glad to have my belief in its relevance to the unit confirmed. […]


  4. Poetry and politics in the classroom | Once uPUN a time... - June 1, 2015

    […] With Ireland having recently legalised same-sex marriage, Australia is now officially taking steps to put this issue on the political agenda.  It is thus particularly timely to be exploring representations of same-sex relationships as part of a unit examining poetic representations of gender. […]


  5. ‘Real Men’ | Once uPUN a time... - January 10, 2016

    […] have written previously about poetry and gender, with a particular emphasis on the way in which poets construct representations of masculinity and […]


  6. Poetry about resilience | Once uPUN a time... - January 31, 2016

    […] occasions about using poetry to explore representations and constructions of gender (here and here, for example).  I have also previously blogged about using poetry as a means of introducing […]


  7. Discussing Depression | Once uPUN a time... - March 28, 2016

    […] evident by my previous posts on issues such as domestic violence, gender inequality and sustainability, I feel that that the English syllabus offers teachers and students unique […]


  8. Language and Gender related material | Once uPUN a time... - October 3, 2016

    […] ‘I think she was a she‘ (spoken word poem) […]


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