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What Are Big Girls Made Of?: Poems

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Opening with a powerful cycle of elegies for her long-distant, half-brother, this major new collection by one of our bestselling poets then goes on to include both serious and funny poems about women and poems about the precarious balance of nature, ending with the beautiful, life-affirming "The Art of Blessing the Day." 160 pp.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 4th 1997 by Knopf (first published March 1st 1997)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  243 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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This is probably my favorite poem from the book. Just beautiful.

On guard

I want you for my bodyguard,
to curl round each other like two socks
matched and balled in a drawer.

I want you to warm my backside,
two S's snaked curve to curve
in the down burrow of the bed.

I want you to tuck in my illness,
coddle me with tea and chicken
soup whose steam sweetens the house.

I want you to watch my back
as the knives wink in the thin light
and the whips crack out from shelter.

Guard my body against dust and disuse,
Kate Savage
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading these poems. I expected the overtly political feminist rage, thinking this would be something like Diane di Prima poems. But I didn't expect everything around and beyond the slogans. Odes to deer and cats and grackles, and an interiority that travels deep -- "all the way / down into the octopus cave / where I would seize my own self / like a precious living conch."

There's something about this balance -- writing of both white supremacy and lost cats; abortion clinics and crows; th
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great poetry -- the type that makes you want to stand up and say "*&%@ yeah I'm a woman -- you got a problem with that?!"
Kimberly Seibert
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Marge Piercy uses a lot of sensory in her poetry. She has a powerful voice. This book was a mixture of feminism, nature, and reflection of the authors own life experiences. The read started off strong but about halfway through the book I started losing interest. Two poems that really stuck out to me from this book, the "Duet that Trails Off," and "After the wind abated, he walked out and died." I reread both several times I liked them so much.
Caitlin Conlon
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
absolutely beautiful writing. I'll definitely be checking out more from Piercy in the future.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
one of my new favorite poets.
I love the range of subjects that she broaches and her imagry
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Stand up now and say No More.
Stand up now and say We will not
be ruled by crazies and killers,
by shotguns and bombs and acid.
We will not dwell in the caves of fear.
We will make each other strong.
We will make each other safe.
There is no other monument.

A few of my favorite lines out of "For two women shot to death in Brookline, Massachusetts". But honestly I was overwhelmed by the power and honesty of all of these poems. I have marked so many pages and a lot of these poems are easily some of my new
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5, as there were times I couldn't wait to get home and continue reading and times when I was dreading diving back into the skillful world of Piercy's 13th collection.

Listen, I'll be honest: for me, nature poems are tedious and there's a section and a half of leaves and geese and trees. That is really my only complaint and it's entirely because of my personal tastes.

The rest of the collection was fabulous. In fact, and I realize this is an unfair statement, it's almost too polished. She's jus
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers, poetry fans
Shelves: poetry
I'm not the biggest fan of "nature" poetry. (By which I mean, if you write it, and you aren't Mary Oliver, I tend to take issue of that.) So, when I picked up this little gem in San Francisco -- pleased as punch to find some Piercy poetry, which is impossible to track down in STL for some reason -- I was more excited about the sections that did not focus extensively on, well, deer for instance. But, as usual, Piercy disarms me. 90% of the poems in this collection are top of the line -- hitting c ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
I've been reading Piercy's poetry collections spanning her career to see how her feminism has developed since she first started publishing. This collection, published in 1997, is softened compared to her early anger in To Be of Use. There are some strong poems about abortion in the beginning section and a good poem on self image toward the end, but as a whole, I am disappointed by the waning of Piercy's feminist poetry. If you're looking for that, I suggest her earlier collections. This one is m ...more
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is one of my favorite poetry collections thus far. Marge Piercy writes about love, life, death, and seasons with a strong woman's voice. My favorite poem in this collection is the final entry,
The Art of Blessing the Day
This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter the skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.
In the morning the world is
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
My first book of M. Piercy poems. I'm also teaching it in my Creative Writing class. Loved it. Her poems are accessible, important, moving, political, historical. You could use this book to teach a history class, a creat. writing class, a women's studies class, a lit class.
It's the perfect choice for teachers. Fave poems:
the title poem, also Brotherless, and the elegy to Audre Lorde.
May 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Because she was coming to my college as a speaker, I desperately wanted to love the writing of Marge Piercy. I thought, "What an intelligent woman. I can't wait to ask her poignant questions about her works." Alas, that did not happen. I found myself to be unmoved by this work- and excerpts from other.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
In some ways, I think this book should be regarded as even more moving and iconic than Piercy's The Moon is Always Female, especially because of the excellent 'A day in the life,' about a terrorized abortion clinic employee. This is some of Piercy's best work overall.
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love Marge Piercy's way of seeing both sides of a situation yet maintaining her feminist view without insulting the male gender too much. I found sympathy for some men in here as well as some anger too. Perfect quick read.
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent collections of poems. So far, this is my favorite of her collections. I think she must have been about my age when she wrote them - so many speak to who I am now, and where I've been. I may have to buy two copies, so I can loan one out :)
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
After reading quite a few of Piercy's poems on line I was happy to find this collection in a local bookstore. A quick perusal suggests that I'm in for a very big treat. And the cover! Can't miss with a Minoan fresco, can you?
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I fell in love with Marge Piercy many years ago because of her comparison between women and bonsai trees. Now that I have read an entire collection of her works, I am an even bigger fan. I'm actually looking forward to writing about these for my class!
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Feminist poetry at its best. Raw, emotional, poignant. These poems will get to you on a visceral level, no matter what your politics or gender.
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the 1998 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Never a disappointment to feminists, Piercy's poems expore everything from body image to karma.
May 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Piercy isn't my favorite, although she has mad skills and makes lots of other folks tingle. This volume holds the often cited "Rape Poem."
Victoria Chow
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I could care less for her nature poetry, but no one has a better handle on narrative poetry than Marge Piercy. Her poems on her dead brother and on feminism are unparalleled for me.
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Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a
“When will women not be compelled
to view their bodies as science projects,
gardens to be weeded,
dogs to be trained?
When will a woman cease
to be made of pain?”
“Variant selves haunt
the corridors of my brain, people
my novels, crowd in like ghosts
drawn to blood when friends
or strangers tell me secrets,
hand me their troubles,
sweaters knit of hair and wire.”
More quotes…