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High School Poetry and My Margaret Atwood Reading List



     So, I have been a very happy camper in English class this month because we have just started the POETRY UNIT!!!! Yay!!  And what makes a sophomore English poetry unit so wonderful is that we don't even have to write poems for it.  Now, you might think that I would be upset by such a restriction, but actually I couldn't be happier with it.  After all, high school is full of kids who are full of feelings and lacking in experience. What I'm trying to say is that a poetry-WRITING unit would have resulted in a slew of terrible, TMI-inducing poems.
     (I must say that none of the above sarcasm means that I am exempt from the crummy-teenage-poetry-writing crew of America.  I just, you know, keep my poems in a file where no one will ever see them :P)
     But all of that aside, we were asked to pick a poem to memorize for this unit, and I chose "February" by Margaret Atwood.  And thus I became aware of the wonderful writing of Margaret Atwood!  She is a Canadian literary goddess who has written poetry, literary criticism, essays, and novels of many genres - basically, she's not tied down to any single type of writing, which is exactly how I hope to be as a writer someday.  Discovering her has prompted me to produce a reading list composed of Margaret masterpieces that I have read so far/intend to read, so that you all might enjoy them as well!


How cute is Margaret Atwood?
I love her hat.  And her hair. And her genius.
1. "February" - I've read this one already, durr, and I can tell you it's a great poem!  It completely encapsulates how I was feeling by February of this year - namely, GET ME OUT OF HERE AND INTO SOME SUNSHINE BEFORE I SHRIVEL.  Let it be spring. Hehe.
2. The Handmaid's Tale - I read this book a few months ago without really noticing the author, and it blew my mind. It's about a future society in which women are confined, in a religious effort to perpetuate the Aryan race, to a few very specific roles, such as that of a Handmaid, whose job it is to bear the children of high-ranking men if their actual Wives are infertile (I may not be remembering that exactly).  The most sickening and terrifying part of this book is that it sounds familiar.  The conditions for women in this society, while not an exact match, remind me of those in Taliban-controlled countries.  
3. Oryx and Crake - Well, I've heard this book is amazing, so I bought it!  It is another dystopian/speculative story set in the wake of an apocalypse caused by genetically engineered crops and animals.
4. The Edible Woman - I can't wait to read this book.  Shortly after the protagonist, Marian, gets engaged, she stops being able to eat and has the most unsettling feeling that she herself is being eaten alive.  The blurb says it best: "Marina ought to feel consumed with passion, but really she just feels...consumed."
5. Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing - Atwood wrote this book based on a series of lectures that she gave at the University of Cambridge.  She says that it is less of a writing guide and more a book on being a writer, but either way, I think my own writing would be the better for having read it.

          - Carly

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