Girlhood in Verses
The Role of Poetry in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon and Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X
Few creative protagonists in girls’ coming-of-age fiction, especially those authored by women, have escaped the lure of poetry writing. And yet from introspective diarists to fervent letter-writers to passionate storytellers, what seems less visible in current scholarly conversation on girls’ literature are discussions surrounding girls as aspiring poets. My article considers representations of poetry writing in two landmark texts by women, Emily of New Moon (1923) by Lucy Maud Montgomery and The Poet X (2018) by Elizabeth Acevedo, paying special attention to how poetry writing serves particular purposes for the characters as they search for means of self-representation and self-expression to resist practices that undermine their voice. Despite being published in significantly different time periods, Montgomery’s and Acevedo’s works cross paths in terms of how they represent the power of poetry writing for adolescent girl protagonists: poetry operates as a means of negotiating conflicted identities or subjectivities, reconstructing their own notions of time, and performing their bodies. Whilst this article attempts to sketch a tentative case for the usefulness of poetry in girls’ texts then and now, it concludes with suggestions for future research that might shed more light on the continual appeal of poetry in narratives of girlhood.
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