This chapter examines critical approaches to women’s experimental poetry in Britain. More specifically, it considers how critics discuss women’s poetry in Britain in relation to feminism. The chapter begins by focusing on Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play, Top Girls, which highlights the difficulty of writing a history of women that produces the modern woman, as well as the susceptibility of that history to occlusions, elisions, and ideologically driven distortions. It then turns to Arthur Marwick’s claim that ‘the much publicised activities of tiny minorities have distracted attention from a very genuine liberation of the mass of the people’. It also analyses two accounts of the 1960s that show women struggling with the idea that looking after the body and its unruliness, socialising and managing the body, is their biologically programmed and socially demanded task: A. S. Byatt’s 2002 novel A Whistling Woman and Emma Tennant’s 200 autobiographical memoir Girlitude. Finally, it discusses debates regarding whether women’s experimental or feminist poetry is a valid and valuable form of political representation in Britain.
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