Women poets, for the first time in history, have a deep and
wide female literary tradition from which to draw. Switchback
Books seeks to advance some of the best writing emerging from
our unique cultural moment. As the fortunate inheritors of the
social, psychological, and linguistic spaces carved out by the
artists and activists who have come before us, we seek to
honor those visions and achievements while at the same time
celebrating the multiplicity of voices that continue to emerge
in women’s poetry.
One of these visions has been left to us by Virginia Woolf, who
concluded A Room of One’s Own with the following passage:
For my belief is that if we live another century or so […] and have five
hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of
freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; […] if we face
the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go
alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the
world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead
poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so
often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who
were her forerunners […] she will be born. As for her coming without
that preparation, without that effort on our part, […] that we cannot
expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would
come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and
obscurity, is worth while.
Adrienne Rich echoes this hope that women writers will work
for each other (and the dark underside, the difficulty and
loneliness of that work) in her poem, “Letters to a Young Poet”:
I wanted to go somewhere
the brain had not yet gone
I wanted not to be
there so alone.
Thankfully (and these are no small thanks), women poets are no
longer quite so alone, and they no longer feel so strongly the
burden of silence that was once their collective literary past.
But there is always more work to be done, and it is the goal of
Switchback Books to support and celebrate women poets during
this exhilarating moment in their history.