Classical Women Poets

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Josephine Balmer
Bloodaxe, 1996 - Classical poetry - 158 pages
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'Their songs delight the gods... and mortals too for all time'

Fragmented and forgotten, the women poets of ancient Greece and Rome have long been overlooked by translators and scholars. Yet to Antipater of Thessalonica, writing in the first century AD, these were the 'earthly Muses' whose poetic skills rivalled those of their heavenly namesakes.

Today only a fraction of their work survives - lyrical, witty, often innovative, and always moving - offering surprising insights into the closed world of women in antiquity, from childhood friendships through love affairs and marriage to motherhood and bereavement.

Josephine Balmer's translations breathe new life into long-lost works by over a dozen poets from early Greece to the late Roman empire, including Sappho, Corinna, Erinna and Sulpicia, as well as inscriptions, folk-songs and even graffiti. Each poet is introduced by a brief bibliographical note, and where necessary her poems are annotated to guide readers through unfamiliar mythological or historical references.

In an illuminating introduction, Josephine Balmer examines the nature of women's poetry in antiquity, as well as the problems (and pleasures) of translating such fragmentary works. Classical Women Poets is a complete collection for anyone interested in women's literature, the ancient world, and - above all - poetry. It is a companion volume to Josephine Balmer's edition Sappho: Poems and Fragments, also published by Bloodaxe.

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Womens Poetry Womens Lives
Preface 98 Poems 8592
Womens Poems Womens Poetry

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About the author (1996)

Josephine Balmer was born in Hampshire in 1959. She studied Classics and Ancient History at University College, London, and is a research scholar, journalist, critic and translator. She has published four books with Bloodaxe: her translation Sappho: Poems and Fragments (1992, 2018) and the companion anthology, Classical Women Poets (1996), and her new translation Catullus: Poems of Love and Hate, published in 2004 with Chasing Catullus: poems, translations & transgressions. Her other titles include Rearranging the World: an Anthology of Literature in Translation (British Centre for Literary Translation, 2001); Piecing Together the Fragments: Translating Classical Verse, Creating Contemporary Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2013); The Word for Sorrow, for which she was awarded a Wingate Foundation Scholarship (Salt Publishing, 2009 & 2013); Letting Go (Agenda Editions, 2017); and The Paths of Survival (Shearsman Books, 2017), which draws on Aeschylus's lost tragedy, Myrmidons.She has written widely on poetry and translation for publications such as The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Times Literary Supplement and The New Statesman, and has been reviews editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. Chair of the Translators' Association from 2002 to 2005, she is a judge of the Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation, and editorial advisor to the poetry journal Agenda. She was awarded a PhD by Publication in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She sets the daily Word Watch and weekly Literary Quiz for The Times, and lives in Crowborough, East Sussex.

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