Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 31, 2009

Funny grrrls: Humor and contemporary women poets

  • Tenaya Darlington
From the journal HUMOR


As humorists, women poets have a spotty history. Sure, there is comedy in the work of Gertrude Stein and in the darkly sarcastic poems of Dorothy Parker, but humor is hardly as prevalent as it is in the works of male poets, who have a rich history of comic poetry dating back to Chaucer and leading up to Philip Larkin, John Ashbery, Billy Collins, and others. Rather than make comparisons, however, I explore women poets on their own terms, paying particular attention to the way contemporary women poets in America use humor in their work. I outline four modes (thematic, tonal, imagistic, and syntactical), then examine why women use humor—to what ends? Ultimately, I argue that humor is disruption, a way to assert authority, and often a means by which women poets examine sexual and social mores.

Published Online: 2009-08-31
Published in Print: 2009-August

© 2009 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin

Downloaded on 9.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button