Sounds Good To Feature Two Specials on Female Poets and Astronauts of the 60s and 70s

Mar 17, 2019

This Thursday, Sounds Good will feature two hour-long specials honoring female poets and astronauts of the 60s and 70s, hosted by actress, Meryl Streep, and the first woman commander of a space shuttle, Eileen Collins, respectively.

At 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21st, Sounds Good will air A Change of WorldA Change of World tells the story of how poets who were swept up in the Women's Movement of the 1960s and 70s radically changed American poetry. As poet Alicia Ostriker says, "For the first time in the history of writing, which is about 4,000 years or so, women could write without fear, without constantly looking over their shoulder to see if they were going to be approved of by men."

Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was a primary catalyst of The Women's Movement. In poetry, it was Sylvia Plath's posthumous book, Ariel, which electrified a generation of women poets. In this program, we'll hear from Plath herself and from women poets who were coming up during the 1960s. We'll also hear about the radical sexual and psychological candor of Plath's friend, Anne Sexton.

By the 1970s, women poets were publishing a huge variety of poetry that simply was not imaginable a decade earlier. Yet they still didn't have mainstream literary approval. When Adrienne Rich won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1974, she accepted on behalf of her fellow nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker. This was a watershed moment. As Honor Moore says, "It was shocking. Feminism had no standing in the culture. It was courageous in the sense that none of these three poets would ever be accepted or considered in the same way again." In the face of continuing sexism in the literary establishment, women poets began forming their own informal communities with readings, magazines, bookstores, workshops, and mentorships. We'll hear about this movement from poets who participated, like Sharon Olds, Judy Grahn, Sonia Sanchez, Susan Griffin, as well as archival audio from some of the leading poets at the time. 

After A Change of World at 12 noon, Sounds Good will feature Rocket Girls and Astro-nettes. This program is the story of women in the ultimate Man's World -- the labs and shuttle crew cabins of NASA. Told in the first person, these stories explore the experiences of NASA's first woman engineers and scientists and its first astronauts. It also tells the fascinating story of a group of women pilots who -- in the early 1960s -- were led to believe that they would be America's first women astronauts and were given the exact same physical tests as the Mercury astronauts. 

Listen to A Change of World (11 a.m.) and Rocket Girls and Astro-nettes (12 noon) this Thursday, March 21st, on WKMS 91-3 FM or on wkms.org.