Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book”; Emily Dickinson, “Publication – is the Auction” (788); Margaret Cavendish, “An Apology For Her Poetry”; Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”
If you’ve read the four poems assigned, you’ve guessed the theme: writing. More specifically, all four poets write about the various anxieties and joys caused by writing, and by sharing one’s writing with others. In the case of Bradstreet and Cavendish in particular, the pressures are intense because both writers plan to publish their work (rather than just sharing it with trusted friends) and both are women writing during the seventeenth century, a time period when it was unusual, and even controversial, for women to publish (or even spend any time writing at all). What shared concerns about writing and publishing do the speakers of Bradstreet’s and Cavendish’s poems express? In what ways do these two speakers differ in their feelings about their work?