Friday, May 24, 2024

A new book of poetry aims to empower girls

The perfect literary gift for the young woman in your life.

You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves is a gift to young women experiencing the challenges of adolescence, and the wider world. The collection is filled with works by a wide range of poets who are honest, unafraid, and skilled at addressing the complex feelings of coming-of-age, from loneliness to joy, longing to fear, attitude to anger. Tackling questions of gender, sexuality, harassment, and pain while celebrating beauty, risk, and self-discovery, You Don’t Have to Be Everything is edited by Diana Whitney, indie-bestselling author, award-winning poet, and former poetry critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. 

From giants of the genre such as Maya Angelou, Joy Harjo, and Mary Oliver, to recent breakout voices like National Book Award Winner Elizabeth Acevedo and nominee Natalie Diaz to emerging talents such as Amanda Gorman and Instagram famous poets Kate Baer, Nikita Gill, and Andrea Gibson, the 68 authors featured in You Don’t Have to Be Everything represent a diverse range of voices, all of whom have dealt with the struggle and joy of discovering who they are and who they are becoming. 

Grouped by emotions (Seeking, Loneliness, Attitude, Rage, Longing, Shame, Sadness, and Belonging), each chapter gives readers permission to let go of shame and perfectionism, urging them to accept their own contradictions and embrace the complexity and fullness of their own identity.

Editor Diana Whitney | Photo: Jeff Woodward

Editor Diana Whitney, based in Vermont, focuses on feminism, motherhood, and sexuality. Her first book, Wanting It, became an indie bestseller and won the Rubery Book Award in poetry. For years she was the poetry critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, where she featured women authors and LGBTQ voices in her column. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, the Washington Post, the Kenyon Review, and many more. A feminist activist in her hometown and beyond, Diana advocates for survivors of sexual violence and fights for the rights of women and girls. Find out more at

This collection offers a compassionate, empowering lens through which young women can see themselves. It urges them to accept who they are rather than who they “should” be. Filled with diverse perspectives and poignant insights, You Don’t Have to Be Everything has the power to reach young readers and give them the courage to shine their own light.

You Don’t Have to Be Everything by Diana Whitney, illustrated by Cristina González, Kate Mockford, and Stephanie Singleton is available March 30.

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