Most of the appreciations of Ursula K. Le Guin have focused on her fiction, but the SF master also wrote speculative poems. Like so many in the field, I began writing SF after reading her lyrical, intelligent prose. That lyricism, of course, we also find in the intelligence of her poems.
I’ll admit here that I haven’t read as much of her poetry as I’ve read her prose. That said, one of the most striking speculative poems I’ve read in a while is hers: “Werewomen.” which I encountered in The Moment of Change, edited by Rose Lemberg. (As an aside, the anthology is a solid collection of speculative poetry that I highly recommend. Read a review by Brit Mandelo on tor.com here.)
The poem is a cry of an older woman who, like the younger women and urban women she aligns herself with, implores the reader to “Listen what I need is freedom,” including the freedom to walk alone at night. In an era of #metoo, marches against the current US administration, and other calls to raise our voices, we should keep the last lines of the poem with us:
“All kinds of women
talk about walking alone.
When the moon is full
listen how they howl,
listen how they howl together.”
And so, we keep howling. Howling on placards and protest chants. Howling through calls and letters to our elected officials. Howling through our online posts. Howling through our stories.