Poets in Vogue
An exhibition at the Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, London
This exhibition will present creative interpretations of the clothes of women poets alongside the poetry they wrote about fashion and self-image. It aims to rethink prevailing ideas about women writers and their image. As one feminist argument goes, the way a woman writer dresses should be incidental to her creative work. This will be complicated by paying attention to the importance of clothes in the writing of these poets. Equally ubiquitous is the association of certain women writers and the way they look. This will be challenged by presenting dynamic, alternative versions of their style in the form of artistic interpretations of their clothes, made by the expert costume-maker Gesa Werner (V&A). We want to unsettle the fixed equation of women and fashion, to circulate new, different images of these women, but also to celebrate their attention to the clothed human body and the joys and anxieties of dressing. A series of workshops aimed at teenage girls will run in conjunction with the exhibition, to explore how fashion can be used to read poetry, and how poetry can help navigate issues around self-image.
Researchers: Sophie Oliver (Liverpool), Sarah Parker (Loughborough)