Some of the prominent themes in Atwood’s works include gender and identity, religion and myth, the power of language, climate change, and power politics. Additionally, many of her poems are inspired by myths and fairy tales.
On her 81st birth anniversary, here is a look at some memorable works of poetry by Margaret Atwood.
1. The Animals in That Country
This poetry collection dramatizes the civilized urge to ignore the wildness lurking just over the horizon. It stresses upon the gap between civilization and wilderness, and the difference between society, a place where animals “have the faces of people,” and the eerie place where animals “have the faces of animals.”
2. The Circle Game
The poems in this collection explore the deceptive ordinariness of day-to-day life and the terrors of a universe threatened by technology. Moreover, it focuses particularly on the tension between perception and reality where at first glance something may seem harmless, but upon deeper inspection you discover a disturbing truth.
3. Procedures for Underground
Known by its most famous lines: “Where do the words go / when we have said them?” the collection is a dark work dealing with haunting reflections on the past and the omnipresence of death. Many of these poems confront loss and oblivion.
4. Power Politics
This collection represents one of Atwood’s most overtly political works and. The poems confront the suffering and dependence that unite and divide men and women, as well as confront larger existential concerns.
5. The Journals of Susanna Moodie
In these poems, Atwood re-imagines Canadian history from the perspective of a famous woman, Susanna Strickland Moodie, an Englishwoman who documented her immigration to Upper Canada in poems and journals. The prominent themes are brutality of civilization and wonder of the landscape, the horrors of the forest, and the space between the scenic and the disturbing.
6. True Stories
The poetry collection was a result of Atwood’s activity in a series of human-rights organizations, particularly the Canadian branch of Amnesty International. They display a marked concern with political oppression and environmental devastation.
7. You are Happy
In this collection, Atwood seeks happiness and fulfillment amid the suffering and despair of life in this book of poems. The title is ambiguous and ironic as it is more an attempt at self-persuasion than a statement of fact.