Selected Poems of Anne Sexton, ‘Her Kind’

Unlike Lorde’s “Fantasy and Conversation,” Anne Sexton’s “Her Kind” directly confronts the image of the vilified witch. When listening to the live reading of “Her Kind,” the listener no longer hears an esteemed poet but is transported to a forest, sequestered by looming trees. In their wake, witches gather, singing incantations to transmogrify their world. Here, in this space, Sexton endeavors to show us that these are not mere women, but beings able to control forces of nature that so many fail to understand.

Throughout the poem, Sexton explores different figures that have been shunned by patriarchal society: the witch, a lonely old hag, and a woman on her way to her execution. The first stanza highlights typical deviant behaviors of witches, such as “haunting the black air” (18) or “dreaming evil” (18). While radical feminists attempt to reclaim the image of the witch and expel the negative stereotypes surrounding her, Sexton reinforces the mystical powers that so many feared. By doing so, she utilizes that fear and creates a kinship with those who feel misunderstood, the women who “[are] not wom[en] quite” (18). With Sexton claiming these negative images of women, she turns these stereotypes into something that feminists can use for their own gain. “I have been her kind” is woven throughout the poem, thus reclaiming the idea of the witch, and entreating others to do the same.

Source: Middlebrook, Diane Wood, editor. “Her Kind.” Selected Poems of Anne Sexton, by Anne Sexton, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, p. 18

American Poetry Archives. Anne Sexton Reads ‘Her Kind’ 1960. YouTube, YouTube, 19 February 2012,


Heresies: The Great Goddess

Heresies: The Great Goddess

Heresies, an independent feminist publication with a focus on art and politics, explores female spirituality in their fifth issue, The Great Goddess. The cover of the issue has an image of a Venus figurine, complete with exaggerated breasts and thighs, which were prevalent in representations from ancient pagan societies. Whatever their purpose may be, these figurines showcase how venerated women were in these societies; because of this, the cover encourages women to think of themselves in a similar fashion: as goddesses who are leaders of their community and nurturers of the family. However, 

unlike typical American media that expected women to be devoted to their families, Heresies celebrates these roles, as they are a form of autonomy that women are able to have in the patriarchal society they are living in.

Additionally, the issue includes a glossary of different aspects of female spirituality, thus educating women on why they need to think of themselves as goddesses. Even though the issue focuses on goddesses as a subject of female spirituality, the glossary also includes terms relating to witchcraft and its components. Here, the audience can see a connection between the goddess and the witch: both figures are agents of healing, and possess powers that many do not. Cultivating this relationship between the two creates a community of women who can feel empowered by similarities between the goddess and the witch.

Source: “Heresies: The Great Goddess .” Heresies: The Great Goddess , vol. 2, no. 5, 1978.


Cables to Rage by Audre Lorde

 “Fantasy and Conversation” by Audre Lorde 

On the cover of the chapbook Cables to Rage by Audre Lorde, the viewer sees Lorde staring directly into the camera, her eyes taking on a defiant stance. With this picture, we are reminded of Lorde’s presence not only as a poet but as a feminist, a woman, a human being. Thus, for many women, Lorde is an example of the unwavering woman, something that Lorde’s poetry wishes to instill in its audience.

Cables to Rage features “Fantasy and Conversation,” a poem which presents witches in a positive light. The narrator of the poem speaks of “turn[ing] frogs into pearls / speak of love, our making and giving.”(19) Lorde explores the powers that witches commonly yield, and instead of these powers being forces of destruction and chaos, the poem creates a space where these powers are used to create love and healing within relationships. Through this poem, Lorde encourages her audience to see the power in their own lives, through their own craft. However, the poem highlights the dual nature of these powers. At the end of the poem, Lorde writes, “shall I strike / before our magic / turns color?” (19) While she is presenting witches and witchcraft in a positive light for the purposes of the feminist movement, Lorde also reminds her audience not to doubt their influence. Thus, she leaves her audience in the wake of the power of the witch, which also serves as a metaphor for the growing influence of the feminist movement as a whole.

Source: Lorde , Audre. “Fantasy and Conversation .” Cables to Rage , 2nd ed., Paul Breman., 1973, p. 19 .


Quest, A Feminist Quarterly


Witchcraft: The Art of Remembering by Morgan McFarland

Morgan McFarlands’ “Witchcraft: The Art of Remembering,” depicts a time, long ago,  when women had total autonomy over their lives. McFarland starts the article by imploring her audience to remember witchcraft and women’s history in it:


There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember….You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or , failing that, invent. (41)


Here, McFarland constructs the core image of witches that radical feminists propagated during the Second Wave movement. The act of remembering emphasizes the notion that all women used to be witches, and that women were figures of authority in this long forgotten society. It isn’t until newly formed, patriarchal Christian religion becomes the norm that women lose their role as leaders and change bringers in this new society.  With this, witches are forced to exist in oblivion, and those who are allowed, join the Church. Still, the anxiety surrounding witches lingers, and “The Church Militant” (44) plunges the world into the Burning Times. The Burning Times not only heralded the
murder of thousands of the so-called witches bet

ween the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, but to McFarland, also represented the rise of “homotechnocracy as patriarchy plundered and raped” (46) the Earth. Thus, the author associates both the devaluing of women in society and the destruction of the Earth as a direct consequence of “phallocentric values” (46). However, while feminism spreads, as McFarland notes, the power and influence of witchcraft begins to grow as well. While this article showcases the injustices that witches have had to endure throughout history, it is also an invitation to join such a community “that fosters spontaneity, creativity, excitement, and memory” (47), all of which were characteristics that women were prevented from cultivating. Therefore, McFarland reassures women that they can move through the world knowing that they once had a place in their own society, which will only remind them of why they need feminism in their lives.

Source: McFarland , Morgan. “Witchcraft: The Art of Remembering .” Quest: A Feminist Quarterly , vol. 1, no. 4, 1975, pp. 41–48.