The Art of Leaving Nothing Behind: Feminist Consciousness in the Poetics of Louise Glück, Barbara Guest, and Lisa Robertson

Kaisa Cummings, Lake Forest College

Abstract

This thesis aims to locate and critically examine the poetic landscapes that serve to further or negate the role of female subjectivity in selected works by Louise Glück, Barbara Guest, and Lisa Robertson. These “landscapes” are the locations on which each poet builds her critique: for Glück, this place is within the primordial soil of the mythic; for Guest it is part of the urban spectacle; and for Robertson it is the rhetorical foundations of gendered spaces. While these poets came of age in different eras and embody different conceptions of feminism, the issue of women’s agency reoccurs throughout their work. The connecting thread that this thesis aims to isolate among the featured poets is embedded in their investigation of the central question of how women can analyze their own exploitation and inscribe their own demands within an order prescribed by the masculine.