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Feminist Bookstores in America

Los Angeles Review of Books writer Lisa L. Moore examines the rise and influence of feminist bookstores in her column The Dream of a Common Bookstore:

In my last column, I made the case that writing by poets formed a foundation of feminist theory and the academic discipline of women’s studies, partly because of the special status of poets in the women’s movement. As Zee put it, “the poets who would come from out of town [to do readings at Smedley’s] were like rock stars. It wasn’t a poetry-being-shunted-off kind of thing. And especially Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde. The poetry was very elevated.” In today’s column, I want to explore the idea that feminist bookstores have made a distinctive contribution to American poetry because of this elevation. Feminist bookstores created an audience and market for poetry, a meeting place for poets and readers, and a public sphere in which poetry had an important bardic function. Feminist bookstores brought a new public to poetry both as readers and writers, a life-giving function that, little-understood and therefore little-noticed, continues to shape both mainstream and feminist poetry worlds today.

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