Women poets from around the world are gathered here to raise their voices together, to speak out against violence and its calamitous effect upon the human soul. Yet there is also a thread of resilience here, an undercurrent of hope that points to the human ability to move on, to build a new life out of a shattered past. Each poem addresses difficult issues concerning conflict and the lives of women. Some are spirited statements that demonstrate courage even in brutal circumstances; others rage at the perpetrators of war or simply mourn their losses. Together, these works reveal a deep consciousness of both the effects of violence and the human ability to move forward. The women whose poems appear in this collection stand for peace. Many of them have seen war and strife on fronts both national and domestic; and they write graphically and poignantly, and sometimes ironically, about conflicts external and internal that tear up their lives and the lives of their families and neighbours. They write about the victims of war and oppression: bewildered and brutalized children, bereft wives and mothers, raped and mutilated women, tormented prisoners and soldiers. And they write about victims of a seemingly failed society and victims of struggling or failed human relationships. At the same time, these writers are also crying for peace, searching for peace, and occasionally finding peace. In their search, they point the way for the rest of us.
Marilyn Arnold is the author of numerous books on twentieth-century American writers, including The Reader's Companion to Willa Cather's Fiction. She is emeritus professor of English at Brigham Young University. Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill is professor of psychology and director of the Women's Research Institute at Brigham Young University. Her studies on violence and peace in men and women have received wide publication in psychology journals. Kristen Tracy, whose work has been published in the Green Mountains Review, Quarterly West, Poet Lore, and other literary journals, teaches creative writing at Western Michigan University.