Su’s “The English Canon”

Adrienne Su

(1967- )

“The English Canon”


It’s not that the first speakers left out women
Unless they were goddesses, harlots, or impossible loves
Seen from afar, often while bathing,

And it’s not that the only parts my grandfathers could have played
Were as extras in Xanadu,
Nor that it gives no instructions for shopping or cooking.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my life
Getting over the lyrics
That taught me to brush my hair till it’s gleaming,

Stay slim, dress tastefully, and not speak of sex,
Death, violence, or the desire for any of them,
And to let men do the talking and warring

And bringing of the news. I know a girl’s got to protest
These days, but she also has to make money
And do her share of journalism and combat,

And she has to know from the gut whom to trust,
Because what do her teachers know, living in books,
And what does she know, starting from scratch?

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