Book Review: Poems That Make Grown Women Cry


I love going to libraries, especially if they are having a book sale. Wonderfully, this book was sitting in the aisle waiting for me. Poems That Make Grown Women Cry enriched my life for weeks as I read short stories and poems at random on weeknights.

Within the pages, one hundred women—public figures and celebrities—choose a poem and preface with a bit of context into why they chose that specific poem. Afterwards, a short biography is given of each woman. The design is well laid out. Rather than being solely a poetry book, it is more half poetry and half writings from or about contributors.

In my honest opinion, there is something to be liked by everyone given the diversity brought to the table. Poems range from the eighth century to today. Women range in age, culture, ethnicity, occupation. Contributors include: Joan Baez, Michelle Williams, Judi Dench, Yoko Ono, etc.

The emotional impact is real, though I cannot say I flat out cried. Teary-eyed a few times? Yes. Cry seems to possibly convey the strong emotional feelings poetry may give, and the significance of selected poems to contributors.

A few gems (poems) really stood out and reinforced my long love of poetry (in order seen in book, not in preference): “Sonny’s Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem)” by Linton Kwesi Johnson, chosen by Joss Stone; “Perfection Wasted” by John Updike, chosen by Tina Brown; “for women who are difficult to love” by Warsan Shire, chosen by Taiye Selasi.

A poem by Emily Dickinson, chosen by Elena Ferrante, I appreciated:

I took my power in my hand

I took my Power in my Hand—
And went against the World—
'Twas not so much as David—had—
But I—was twice as bold—

I aimed by Pebble—but Myself
Was all the one that fell—
Was it Goliath—was too large—
Or was myself—too small?

I found this book to be so enjoyable I actually plan on buying the Holden’s first book to this sequel : Poems That Make Grown Men Cry; even though, I am not a man. Poetry is not sexist. (At least it shouldn’t be.)

*Note: Not paid for opinion.