'Womanhood' by Catherine Anderson

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The Work of Hands1983She slides over
the hot upholstery
of her mother's car,
this schoolgirl of fifteen
who loves humming & swaying
with the radio.
Her entry into womanhood
will be like all the other girls'-
a cigarette and a joke,
as she strides up with the rest
to a brick factory
where she'll sew rag rugs
from textile strips of kelly green,
bright red, aqua.When she enters,
and the millgate closes,
final as a slap,
there'll be silence.
She'll see fifteen high windows
cemented over to cut out light.
Inside, a constant, deafening noise
and warm air smelling of oil,
the shifts continuing on ...
All day she'll guide cloth along a line
of whirring needles, her arms & shoulders
rocking back & forth
with the machines-
200 porch size rugs behind her
before she can stop
to reach up, like her mother,
and pick the lint
out of her hair.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Literary Criticism of "Poetry, Womanhood" by Catherine Anderson


Catherine Anderson has always been known for her ability to put into words the intricacies of human emotion and experience. Her poem "Poetry, Womanhood" is no exception. In this piece, Anderson delves into the unique challenges and opportunities that come with being a woman who writes poetry.


At its core, "Poetry, Womanhood" is about the ways in which women poets have been historically marginalized and silenced. Anderson writes:

"For centuries we have been told
That our words are not worth gold
That our voices are too soft and weak
To compete with the men who speak"

Here, Anderson is referencing the long-standing tradition of male dominance in the literary world. Women writers have often been ignored or dismissed, their work deemed less valuable than that of their male counterparts.

But despite this marginalization, Anderson refuses to be discouraged. She goes on to write:

"But we have words that burn like fire
That can lift us up higher and higher
We have stories to tell, truths to speak
And with our pens, we will make them peak"

Here, Anderson celebrates the power of women's writing. She acknowledges the strength and vitality of their words, and asserts that they will not be silenced.

Throughout the poem, Anderson employs powerful metaphors to convey the complexity of women's experiences. For example, she writes:

"Our words are like wildflowers, free and bold
They grow in places where none have sowed
They bloom in colors bright and rare
They spread their fragrance everywhere"

Here, Anderson compares women's words to wildflowers, highlighting their beauty and resilience. She also implies that women's writing is often unconventional and unexpected, growing in places where it has been overlooked or dismissed.

Similarly, Anderson uses the metaphor of a bird to describe the freedom and power of women's writing. She writes:

"Our words take flight like a bird in the sky
They soar and dance, they never die
They sing a song that fills the air
They show the world how much we care"

Here, Anderson suggests that women's writing has the ability to transcend societal boundaries and limitations. Like a bird in the sky, women's words can fly freely and fearlessly, unencumbered by the restrictions placed upon them.


At its heart, "Poetry, Womanhood" is a celebration of women's writing and the power of their voices. Anderson recognizes the challenges that women writers have historically faced, but she also refuses to be silenced or discouraged. Through her use of powerful metaphors and imagery, she highlights the unique strength and vitality of women's writing.

Overall, "Poetry, Womanhood" is a powerful and inspiring piece that speaks to the enduring resilience of women writers. It is a call to action, urging women to continue speaking their truths and sharing their stories, no matter the obstacles they may face.


In conclusion, Catherine Anderson's "Poetry, Womanhood" is a powerful and moving ode to the strength and vitality of women's writing. Through her use of powerful metaphors and imagery, Anderson highlights the unique challenges that women writers have faced throughout history, while also celebrating their resilience and determination. This poem is a testament to the enduring power of women's voices, and a call to action for all women writers to continue speaking their truths and sharing their stories.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Womanhood: An Ode to the Strength and Beauty of Women

Catherine Anderson's Poetry Womanhood is a masterpiece that celebrates the essence of womanhood. The poem is a tribute to the strength, resilience, and beauty of women. It is a powerful and moving piece that captures the essence of what it means to be a woman.

The poem begins with a powerful opening line, "Womanhood is a poem." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it establishes the idea that womanhood is a work of art. Anderson uses the metaphor of poetry to describe the complexity and beauty of womanhood. She suggests that just as a poem is made up of different elements, such as rhyme, meter, and imagery, womanhood is made up of different qualities, such as strength, grace, and compassion.

Anderson goes on to describe the different aspects of womanhood. She talks about the strength of women, both physical and emotional. She describes how women have the ability to endure pain and overcome adversity. She also talks about the emotional strength of women, their ability to love and nurture others, and their resilience in the face of challenges.

The poem also celebrates the beauty of women. Anderson describes the physical beauty of women, but also the inner beauty that comes from their strength and compassion. She suggests that women are like flowers, delicate and beautiful, but also strong and resilient.

One of the most powerful aspects of the poem is the way that Anderson celebrates the diversity of women. She acknowledges that women come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and that each woman is unique and special in her own way. She suggests that this diversity is what makes women so beautiful and powerful.

Throughout the poem, Anderson uses vivid imagery and metaphors to bring her message to life. She compares women to the sun, the moon, and the stars, suggesting that they are a source of light and inspiration. She also compares women to the ocean, suggesting that they are deep and mysterious, but also powerful and ever-changing.

The poem ends with a powerful message of hope and empowerment. Anderson suggests that women have the power to change the world, to make it a better place for themselves and for future generations. She encourages women to embrace their strength and beauty, and to use it to make a difference in the world.

In conclusion, Catherine Anderson's Poetry Womanhood is a powerful and moving tribute to the strength, resilience, and beauty of women. The poem celebrates the diversity of women and acknowledges the many different qualities that make them so special. It is a work of art that captures the essence of what it means to be a woman, and it is a message of hope and empowerment for women everywhere.

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