ALAN v26n3 - Gender Representation in Poetry for Young Adults

First Time contributors to The ALAN Review

Gender Representation in Poetry for Young Adults

by Angela Beumer Johnson and Lauren G. McClanahan
with Maia Pank Mertz

Gender identity is acquired at a very young age, but it is during adolescence that this identity, with its concomitant beliefs and stereotypes, becomes a major force in the lives of young men and women. Whether or not they fit into society's definition of an "appropriate" gender role is of concern to all adolescents as they strive to refine their gender identity. Family, peers, quite probably genetics, as well as cultural norms influence gender identity. Additionally, a great deal of discussion has focused on media's impact on gender identity. Yet schools, and the curricular materials presented to adolescents, are often overlooked as sources of influence on students' perceptions of "appropriate" gender roles. Literary works, for example, can shape the way adolescents view their gendered selves and others.

As teachers, we want to explore some collections of poetry for adolescents with this question in mind: What messages of gender do poets send young people? Some anthologies are gender-biased, reinforcing stereotypes of the traditionally feminine and traditionally masculine. Other anthologies provide poetry which breaks traditional gender stereotypes. Still other poetry incorporates gender stereotypes in an attempt to critique myths about gender. Most of us, like it or not, are entrenched in social attitudes regarding the sexes. Our assumption is that a critical examination of implicit or explicit gender expectations, as presented in poetry for young adults, can help break down some of the myths which can repress both females and males in our classrooms.

In order to consider how poetry for adolescents depicts female and male roles, we read approximately twenty volumes of poetry from university and public library systems. We began our project of examining portrayals of gender in young adult poetry wondering what we might find. What we found were volumes that both upheld and challenged traditional gender roles which, for some students, could be limiting. The five anthologies we will discuss provide a balance of the poetry we considered rich (because they show both females and males as complex human beings, rather than flat and one-dimensional subjects), as well as some anthologies which we might challenge for their assumptions regarding gender roles.

Two of the works-- Rising Voices: Writings of Young Native Americans (1992) and Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People (1996) --include poetry written by young people, and three of the collections-- Class Dismissed! High School Poems by Mel Glenn (1982) , I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists (1992) , and Skin Deep and Other Teenage Reflections (1995) --were written by adults for younger readers. Each collection includes poems that both adhere to and stray from gender stereotyping. We believe that all five volumes could be used in valuable ways to initiate classroom dialogue in an attempt to break various gender stereotypes before they become permanent in the minds of adolescents. While we do not want to come across as condemning any of the authors or anthologists, we would like teachers, and all those who work with young people, to be aware of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) messages young adult poetry sends to young people about how to live in this world as a gendered human being. Reading about the lived realities of adolescents can help students find themselves in literature. But if authors never push students beyond their lived realities--frequently gender-biased realities--then students will never have a model of a world free of both blatant and subtle gender stereotypes.

The Very Good and The Very Bad: Where Is the Middle Ground?

Mel Glenn, a high school English teacher and popular writer of young adult poetry, writes from the perspective of many teenage personae in his fictional high school in Class Dismissed! High School Poems by Mel Glenn. Many of Glenn's poems provide stereotypic portrayals of the young women and men presented in this high school setting. For instance, females are often either angelic or devilish. Males are either very macho or ridiculed for their sensitivity. Few characters represent a middle ground between the extremes. Glenn's poems are titled according to the names of the speakers, reminiscent of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. Glenn's poetry is rich in symbolism, allusion, and other literary devices; however, the messages about what it means to be either male or female in the world of high school are clearly delineated.

Two poems demonstrate the difference in confidence between a successful male and female. For example, "Marvin Pickett" describes himself as handsome and talented. He says, "when I wear my football jersey to class/ All the foxes give me the eye" ( Glenn 11 ). He also believes he is "number one, the best there is" ( 11 ). Marvin shows the confidence and ego of many young men who are successful in athletics. On the other hand, "Rhonda Winfrey," also a talented and attractive athlete, describes herself differently: "I have to be the best" [italics added] ( 12 ). Although a very subtle difference, it is worth discussing why Marvin thinks he already is the best; however, Rhonda feels the need "to be the best" and is in the process of becoming the best. She feels like she has not yet achieved her goal, though another female student speaks very highly (and jealously) of Rhonda's talent. Rhonda does not seem to cope well with her success, and instead of enjoying it as Marvin does, she is defeated by the pressure and says, "Pass the Valium, please" ( 12 ). While Marvin can "handle" the pressure and enjoy his success, Rhonda feels overwhelmed by hers.

Is it important to emphasize seemingly trivial or perhaps individualistic differences between females and males in these poems? We think so. Asking students to think critically and question such depictions can help them begin to understand how prevalent gender stereotyping is in our society. Why is the female athlete represented as unsure of herself? Why does she request Valium? The reference to this tranquilizer not only suggests her inability to cope, but it also evokes the 1950s when women were too routinely prescribed Valium to ease their depression which, ostensibly, stemmed from a lack of purpose in their domestic lives.

The "roster" of students in Glenn's anthology includes a number of negative depictions of girls: one student wants to seduce her male teacher; another girl is labeled a "tramp" by her mother upon finding her daughter's birth control pills. (We wonder if most fathers would chastise their sons upon finding condoms in their wallets. Reverse the sex; does the poem now seem absurd or unbelievable?) We also meet a girl who wants to devote her life to God, and a girl who wants to be "relieved of [her] virginity" by a chivalric knight in shining armor ( 33 ). These poems demonstrate how many of Glenn's young women are either stereotypically "good" girls or stereotypically "easy" girls. Similarly, the gender myth of the bad boy also reigns in the volume. While students can probably relate to these characters, as teachers we should encourage students to question the stereotypes and assumptions presented.

While we do not take offense at the occasional poem which seems stereotypical but might parallel reality, we would like to see more females presented as successful and happy with their success, just as the males are portrayed. Certainly there are girls and boys in our classrooms similar to those depicted in these poems; however, there are also well-rounded young people who have more than athletics and sex on their minds. One of the joys of literature is its ability to encourage us to imagine worlds beyond what we daily experience. Presenting students with characters which sometimes break out of traditional gender roles can be refreshing. However, even stereotypical representations can be a starting point for significant discussion about expectations of females and males in our society.

Like the issue of success, self-reliance is another positive trait which is differentiated by sex in Class Dismissed! In Glenn's anthology, "Donald Kaminsky" tells readers that "a man has to stand up for himself" and strikes out as the bad boy by drinking and getting tattoos ( 95 ). In contrast, "Gail Larkin" dreams of independence from her family, her hometown, and a life of her own by going away to college, but she meekly accepts her parents' insistence that money prevents her from pursuing her dream ( 81 ). The poem implies that money is not really the issue, but that her parents simply want her to remain close so they can protect her. Nevertheless, rather than standing up for herself and searching for options as Donald suggests, Gail is the good girl who remains obedient to her parents' word for this significant life choice.

Some of Glenn's poems seem designed to cause students to question stereotypes. For instance, because she is a good girl who causes no trouble in class, "Lisa Goodman" ("good man"?) is ignored by her teachers. This depiction reflects a serious educational problem cited in Myra and David Sadker's Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls (1994) . Although this is a very real problem, and one that is often unintentional, Glenn forces readers to consider this problem through Lisa Goodman. Yet, students might not realize the significance of the problem in the poem unless encouraged by teachers to think critically about the issue of "invisibility." How invisible are girls in a classroom? Would a class survey show that females do feel more invisible than males? What can be done about his problem? These questions present challenging issues for teachers as well as students.

Some might argue that poems about athletic prowess written in a male voice might attract reluctant male readers to poetry--so much the better! Glenn has surely reached many young people and furthered their enjoyment of poetry through Class Dismissed! and his later works. The collection also includes some wonderfully touching poems about father-son relationships which break the gender myth of the unemotional male. As with the "Lisa Goodman" poem, it appears as though sometimes Glenn includes stereotypical portrayals as a means of stirring thought. It would be even better, however, if the gender stereotypes were broken down more frequently in Class Dismissed! For instance, the males who are not athletic but are artistic--such as a poet and a photographer--are clearly ostracized by their peers. There is value in reflecting the world as it is (and we know that artistic males are frequently harassed), but there is also value in providing a model of how the world could be. Poetry, as all art, has the potential to further our horizons beyond the scope of our lived, direct experiences. Reading these poems can either reinforce gender stereotypes, or, with the guidance of an informed teacher, serve as a basis for questioning the confinement of stereotypical social expectations.

In Their Own Voices

One volume for young adults which could definitely extend readers beyond their lived experiences is the remarkable Rising Voices: Writings of Young Native Americans. All of the poems and essays are written by students, ranging in age from elementary to high school. Arlene Hirschfelder and Beverly Singer's collection of poetry and essays provides an alternative to mainstream society's interpretation of gender and explores possible alternatives. Rising Voices is divided into different categories: identity, family, homelands, ritual and ceremony, education, and harsh realities.

In the "Identity" section, "My Poems" introduces us to a male narrator who sees himself as a poet. He begins each stanza by stating what type of poet he is. "I am a sun poet. . . I am a rain poet. . .I am a sea poet. . .I am a building poet. . .I am a space poet" ( 14 ). In addition to this "poet," several males in this volume define themselves as poets. This is a sharp contrast to the traditional stereotype of a macho, insensitive male that many young readers are used to in mainstream depictions of boys and men.

A deep respect for the earth and all living things is shown in these poems, unquestionably a cultural feature rather than one of gender alone. One male ends his poem proclaiming, "but most of all we love/ our Navajo land" ( 51 ). In the poem "The Desert" the male narrator takes us with him on a walk through the desert. Animals come to him so that he may touch them, illustrating his connection with nature. His description of the images in the desert is poignant and effectively stirs the reader's emotions. In the final stanza he states, "so, next time you are in/ a desert, like me, see things,/ feel things, and hear things" ( 56 ). His experience invites the reader to become more aware of the beauties of nature.

"Prayer" is a poem that takes us through a typical day in the male narrator's life. Climbing to the top of the mesa, "[I] say my/ midnoon prayer. I/ start to cry, so I wipe/ the tears out of my/ eyes to see the/ beauty in the nation./ I start to walk/ home in beauty" ( 64 ). That night he will go to bed and "wait for tomorrow/ to walk in beauty again" ( 64 ). Again, this poem shows a young male poet who is deeply connected with the natural world around him. His spirituality and appreciation of beauty portray the depths of feeling which mainstream depictions of teenage males sometimes ignore.

The young poets in Rising Voices provide alternatives to traditional, mainstream views of gender. Interestingly, even the division of male-female authors is nearly equal (30 males, 28 females). As depicted in this collection, adhering to sometimes limiting gender roles is not as strong a concern for these Native American young people because their focus is more on humanity and their relationship with nature. While their way of life can be somewhat different from mainstream culture, the relative openness of gender roles, as well as their appreciation of nature, can provide young readers with new perspectives concerning life.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Angela Shelf Medearis' volume, Skin Deep and Other Teenage Reflections, calls attention to gender differences that teenagers sometimes experience. An example that is particularly noteworthy includes two separate poems, each involving a mirror. On the opposite page of the first poem, "My Mirror Lies to Me," we see a drawing of a girl with horribly sunken cheeks. She stares into her mirror which is surrounded by diet ads and photos of slim models. The text begins, "My mirror lies to me,/ it whispers,/ YOU ARE FAT, FAT, FAT" ( 18 ). The narrator continues to describe eating "half of a half of a cracker" ( 18 ) for a meal, then purging herself with medicines or her finger. In the end she admits that, "I've almost killed myself in the pursuit/ of perfection,/ only to find out that/ what I'm really starving for/ is love" ( 18 ). This poem is a perfect example of how destructive the media can be in shaping young girls' perceptions of themselves, holding them up to impossibly high standards. That is not to say that there could not have been other factors at play. Perhaps the narrator believes that she must meet some sort of societal criterion for being thin in order to be loved.

In sharp contrast to "My Mirror Lies to Me" is "In the Bathroom Mirror." "In the bathroom mirror/ I am transformed" ( 24 ). The male narrator goes on to say, "my chops and kicks look great/ in the bathroom mirror" ( 24 ). In his mirror, he becomes many things: a secret agent, strong and muscular, a rock star--all positive. He has an air of self-confidence undetectable in the previous anorexic female. An issue such as this would be a fantastic jumping-off point for a class discussion inquiring as to the causes of these differences.

The majority of Medearis' poems deal with topics of universal appeal--identity, friendship and the need for acceptance. For example, in "Sunglasses," the narrator (we don't know the gender) is concerned with maintaining a cool image, yet beneath it all feels insecure. "I wear these dark glasses/ because they're really cool/ (and because I don't want you to see/ the fear/ in my eyes) ( 29 ). It is easy to assume the poem to be about a male because the opposite page depicts a male wearing dark glasses. This is a form of "leading" the reader to a conclusion that might not be intended by the poem--providing yet another topic for discussion with young readers.

In the poem "Pea Brain," the female narrator declares that, "At our school/ it's cool to be/ stupid" ( 23 .) She goes on to admit that, "I don't tell anyone/ I make straight A's/ I don't know why/ most guys prefer to think/ that your brain is/ the size of a pea" ( 23 ). Again, a negative stereotype is upheld. The narrator feels that she must keep her intelligence a secret in order to get noticed by boys. We feel that the poet is using a stereotype to get students to think, to raise awareness that such problems exist, and perhaps through class discussions can be confronted.

In the poem "Babies," we are introduced to a teenage mother of twins. "I wanted a baby because/ I wanted something of my very own/ to love" ( 40 ). The narrator goes on to describe how difficult being a teenage mother is, and in the end proclaims, "I never have any fun anymore./ Who wants to double date with a couple of infants?" ( 40 ). A poem such as this succeeds in showing the harsh realities of the narrator's choices. However, a young reader may be left to wonder, "Where's the father?" No mention is made of the father's responsibilities in this poem, leaving the reader to assume that he is out of the picture. The idea of a double standard is present here--the female struggles while the male is absolved of all responsibility. Perhaps it is Medearis' intent to make us consider the larger issues of young women and their children abandoned by teen fathers.

Feminist Voices

Other issues especially important to females surface in editor Carol Ann Duffy's I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists. Unfortunately even the word "feminist" carries a negative stereotype for many. In no way should the word "feminist" in the title lead anyone to believe that these are angry, bitter poems. Quite the contrary, many celebrate the victories of their female narrators. There are, however, several negative gender stereotypes that are upheld and need further discussion. In Isobel Thrilling's "Advice to a Teenage Daughter," the narrator compares love to war (a notably masculine metaphor), and presents make-up and other beauty products as her daughter's arsenal. At the end of the poem, the narrator conveys to her daughter the ultimate futility of all her preening and preparation, "Beware my sweet;/ conquest may seem easy/ but you can't compete with football/ motor cycles, cars/ cricket, computer games,/ or a plate of chips" ( 28 ). While this may present the mother's perception of relationships, it also reinforces a stereotypical view of adolescent boys and men. This is one topic that teachers may want to address with their students.

In Audre Lorde's "Hanging Fire," the fourteen-year-old narrator has a host of concerns. She worries about her skin, her boyfriend, an upcoming party, and the smallness of her room. Mainly she worries if she will successfully pass through adolescence. Each of the stanzas ends such that the reader has a sense that the mother is not approachable: "and momma's in the bedroom/ with the door closed" ( 30-33 ). As far as gender stereotyping is concerned, in stanza three we learn that, "[I] should have been on Math team/ my marks were better than his" ( 31 ). This is one instance where we as teachers would want to stop and question with our students, "Why do you think that the boy made the math team when the girl had better grades?" Lorde is most likely presenting a negative gender stereotype with a purpose in mind. Perhaps she wants us to ponder these issues further to examine our own preconceived gender biases.

Elma Mitchell writes a poem that addresses the ways society dictates who a young woman becomes. In "Self-portraits," the narrator starts by proclaiming, "The cupboard contains my dresses, the drawer my/ faces./ seven selves lie on seven shelves" ( 41 ). She compares herself to popular female icons--Juliet, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe--recognizable to today's students as long-standing standards of beauty. The narrator even tells the reader where she goes to invent herself, "I bought myself at Boots--the cosmetic counter/ And the slimming aids. I shopped for myself in/ windows/ And women's magazines, and then in the long, long/ mirrors/ In the eyes of the watchers of birds" ( 41 ). The imagery of windows, mirrors, eyes, all reflective of the greater society, is effective and one easily understood by teens. In the end, however, the narrator confesses, "But I like myself best in the bath, where it all comes/ off" ( 41 ). Sadly, the only time the narrator is at peace with herself is when she is alone, away from the eyes and mirrors of society. Somehow, this young woman has received the message that society expects her to be glamorous, which in her mind is equated with outward appearances of beauty which can be purchased at the cosmetic counter, but not her own natural beauty. Again, teachers may want to supplement this poem with further classroom discussion.

The previous poem is not the only one to mention the idea of being slim. In "Anno Wreck Sick," Magi Gibson's narrator uses her extreme thinness to ward off men. The narrator is frightened of men, frightened of adulthood. Her family, or society, wants her to gain weight so that she can get a man, procreate and become an adult. "Poor virgin, poor maiden I was--oh/ they wanted me fed up plump, firm, fair oh/ so femininely fattened for the/ rutting-rites--they wanted my sweet flesh/ to be some sacrifice on/ the altarbed of adulthood" ( 91 ). The narrator obviously feels devoid of control, so she controls the one thing she can, her weight. Fear of objectification has clearly endangered her life.

A whimsical narrator is introduced to us in a humorous role-reversal poem by Fran Landsman entitled, "Whatweakersex?" In this poem, the female narrator becomes the aggressor, sneaking up behind men to pinch their behinds. "There's one thing I've always wanted to do/ cos I think it'd be such fun./ It's to go round pinching every man I see/ firmly on the bum" ( 60 ). The narrator delights in selecting a wide variety of "bums" to pinch, purely for the sport of it. In the end she says, "a pinch just hard enough to prove/ that tweaker sex was there" ( 60 ). A humorous play on words.

A Variety of Voices

Sandford Lyne's Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People collects the poetry of young people from the schools in which he worked as a visiting poet. Perhaps the subtitle explains why these poems are so moving: Poems by Young People. These are poems written by young people as they see the world, rather than by an adult writing in the voice of a young person. Lyne, a poet who worked with over 27,000 students from ages 8-18, compiled not only some of the best poems written by young people, but also what we consider to be some of the freshest verse by any poet ( Lyne 12 ). Of course there are poems which reflect concerns that are stereotyped, but they are only a handful of voices among the many well-rounded and well-adjusted voices. These young people break gender stereotypes; they are free to be themselves, not solely what society wants them to be. Again, we draw attention to the concept of poetry as broadening one's experiences as well as reflecting lived reality.

In Ten-Second Rainshowers, we see females who do not stifle their anger and males who do not stifle their feelings--no matter what age. Assuming that the poets are writing of their own experiences and not taking the voice of the opposite sex, we hear a tenth-grade male describe the warmth he feels from his mother "to keep [his] heart a little warmer" ( Lyne 37 ). We hear a fourth-grade female's anger at her brother and her parents ( 57 ). At the age when many females become incredibly self-conscious, we hear a sixth-grade girl's description of real, not superficial, beauty. In a very short but meaningful poem, the author states, "Let's walk together" to find real beauty ( 85 ). This young person has a wonderful understanding that only when we come together, rather than emphasizing our stereotypical differences, can we become more fully human, understanding more and more about our world and our selves. A seventh-grade female compares herself to a kingdom which "never falls" ( 110 ). This young woman seems very confident and well-adjusted--an excellent model of the possibilities for all young women. (Please see Pipher's Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Souls of Adolescent Girls, 1994 , which examines the sad experiences of many girls and young women struggling through adolescence.) The sense of power from this seventh-grader's writing serves as a sense of hope and strength for us all.

Males are refreshingly open in their written expression as well. A seventh-grade male breaks the popular culture image of girls as angels as he writes of himself as an angel. He writes, "Not a snake or a lion can have this feeling/ but I can" ( 120 ). Blatantly turning from masculine images to describe the depth of his feelings, this young man is another terrific model for young people. A fourth-grade male describes his flaws in baseball, and he is not ostracized by his friends, but rather, he is comforted by them. Athletic prowess is not necessary for acceptance.

Perhaps the most beautiful poems deal with the students' spirituality. These are not overly dramatized saints and martyrs, but real students who have profound thoughts. An especially thoughtful third-grade female describes "the road to God" which to her, "feels like summer" ( 115 ). A sophomore female describes the "bones of God" as "Shimmering, twinkling stars, crushed into a priceless powder" ( 118 ). These young poets have the typical concerns of students their age, but they also show us a view into their deepest thoughts and feelings.

As lovers of poetry, we want to share the best of young adult poetry with students, but we also want them to think critically about the issues presented in the works. Females especially need to know that they do not have to act as they are commonly portrayed. Alternative views need to be presented in an environment that is safe and where discussion can be open and honest.

Even a seemingly innocent matter as the number of female and male authors included in an anthology can have either a conscious or subconscious effect on readers. Class Dismissed!, Rising Voices, and Ten-Second Rainshowers have a good mix of voices from both female and male narrators and authors. On the other hand, in Leonard Marcus's Lifelines: A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life, male poets outnumber female poets three-to-one. Paul Janeczko's Poetspeak: In Their Work, About Their Work has nearly a six-to-one ratio of male to female authors. This ratio is especially disturbing because it might imply to students that most poets are males; however, it might be the case that more males are published than females. Even though society stereotypes poetry as feminine, in these two volumes males dominate the pages. It is important to ask why male poets dominate these works. The ratios are overwhelming, and we refuse to believe that there are not as many equally good poems written by women. Does this mean that we should abandon these two anthologies? Of course not. However, we would be remiss if we did not bring the issue to the attention of our students and other teachers; otherwise we reinforce the status quo. Poetry, in our opinion, can both reflect our lived realities and encourage us to reach beyond those lived realities to provide hope for a future that is free of societal gender limitations.

Works Cited

Duffy, Carol Ann, ed. I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists. Trisha Rafferty, illus. New York: Henry Holt, 1992.

Glenn, Mel. Class Dismissed! High School Poems by Mel Glenn. Michael J. Bernstein, photog. New York: Clarion, 1982.

Hirschfelder, Arlene B., and Beverly R. Singer, eds. Rising Voices: Writings of Young Native Americans. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992.

Janeczko, Paul, ed. Poetspeak: In Their Work, About Their Work: A Selection. Scarsdale, NY: Bradbury, 1983.

Lyne, Sandford, ed. Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People. Virginia Halstead, illus. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Marcus, Leonard S., ed. Lifelines: A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life. New York: Dutton, 1994.

Pipher, Mary. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. New York: Ballantine, 1994.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Skin Deep, and Other Teenage Reflections: Poems by Angela Shelf
Michael Bryant, illus. New York: Macmillan, 1995.

Sadker, Myra, and David Sadker. Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls. New York: Touchstone, 1994.

Selected Bibliography of Poetry for Young Adults

Adoff, Arnold, Ed. Am the Darker Brother: An Anthology of Modern Poems by African Americans , Revised ed. Benny Andrews, illus. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Berry, James. When I Dance: Poems by James Berry . Karen Barbour, illus. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.

Berry, S. L., Ed E. E. Cummings . Stays Eidridgevicius, illus. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 1994.

Duffy, Carol Ann, Ed. I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists . Trisha Rafferty, illus. New York: Henry Holt, 1992.

Dunning, Stephen, Edward Leuders, and Hugh Smith, Eds. Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle . . . And Other Modern Verse . Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1966.

Dunning, Stephen, Edward Leuders, and Hugh Smith, Eds. Some Haystacks Don't Even Have Any Needle . . . And Other Complete Modern Poems . New York: Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard, 1969.

Frost, Robert, and Peter Koeppen, Illus. A Swinger of Birches: Poems of Robert Frost for Young People . Owing Mills, MD: Stemmer House, 1982.

Giovanni, Nikki, Ed. Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate: Looking at the Harlem Renaissance through Poems . New York: Henry Holt, 1996.

Glenn, Mel. Class Dismissed! High School Poems by Mel Glenn . Michael J. Bernstein, photog. New York: Clarion, 1982.

Gordon, Ruth, Ed. Pierced by a Ray of Sun: Poems about the Times We Feel Alone . New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love, and Other Love Poems . Diane and Leo Dillon, illus. Toronto: Whiteside Limited, 1978.

Hirschfelder, Arlene B., and Beverly R. Singer, Eds. Rising Voices: Writings of Young Native Americans . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992.

Hull, Robert, ed. Breaking Free: An Anthology of Human Rights Poetry . New York: Thomson Learning, 1994.

Janeczko, Paul B., Ed. Going over to Your Place: Poems for Each Other . New York: Bradbury, 1987.

Janeczko, Paul B., Ed. Looking for Your Name: A Collection of Contemporary Poems . New York: Orchard, 1993.

Janeczko, Paul B., Ed. Poetspeak: In Their Work, About Their Work: A Selection . Scarsdale, NY: Bradbury, 1983.

Janeczko, Paul B., Ed. Preposterous: Poems of Youth . New York: Orchard, 1991.

Johnson, James Weldon, and Carla Golembe, Illus. The Creation . Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.

Johnson, James Weldon, and James E. Ransome, Illus. The Creation . New York: Holiday House, 1994.

Koch, Kenneth, and Kate Farrell, Eds. Talking to the Sun: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People . New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985.

Larrick, Nancy, Ed. Bring Me All of Your Dreams . New York: M. Evans, 1980.

Livingston, Myra Cohn, Ed. A Time to Talk: Poems of Friendship . New York: Margaret K. McElderry, 1992.

Lyne, Sandford, Ed. Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People . Virginia Halstead, Illus. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Marcus, Leonard S., Ed. Lifelines: A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life . New York: Dutton, 1994.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Skin Deep, and Other Teenage Reflections: Poems by Angela Shelf Medearis . Michael Bryant, illus. New York: Macmillan, 1995.

Morrison, Lillian, ed. Rhythm Road: Poems to Move to . New York: Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard, 1988.

Nye, Naomi Shihab, ed. The Space between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East . New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Nye, Naomi Shihab, and Paul B. Janeczko, eds. I Feel a Little Jumpy around You: Paired Poems by Men and Women . New York: Aladdin, 1996.

Rosenberg, Liz, ed. The Invisible Ladder: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poems for Young Readers . New York: Henry Holt, 1996.

Angela Johnson and Lauren G. McClanahan are doctoral students at The Ohio State University, where they work with Dr. Maia Mertz in English Education.

Copyright 1999. The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #0882-2840). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale in any form.

Reference Citation: Johnson, Angels, Lauren G. McClanahan and Maia Mertz. (1999) "Gender Representations in Poetry for Young Adults." The ALAN Review, Volume 26, Number 3, pp. 39-44.