Poetesses and other ridiculous words
An interview with Carla Bruni by Lara Marlowe in our Saturday magazine over the weekend described the French First Lady as “songwriter, poetess and singer”. Poetess? A word as ridiculous to me as if she’d also been tagged a singeress or songwriteress. Even the word actress is defunct these days, with gender neutral descriptions expected for gender neutral professions. All this coming from someone who wrote a piece in today’s paper about five “women poets” – which perhaps opens me to the same criticism. So is there still any good reason to collect five “poetesses” together for a piece, or does such an action only serve to reinforce a sense of subcategorisation that is in itself a disservice? Over to you.