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'Sweeping Beauty' Cleans Up With Poetry

Housework is a chore for many, and a pleasure for some. Poet Faith Shearin's mother sees it as the former.

"My mother despises what can never truly be done," Shearin writes in the book Sweeping Beauty. "So she does not care for cooking or cleaning."

Love it or loathe it, domestic work is a common experience and it's celebrated in Sweeping Beauty -- Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework.

The punch of divorce, the slam of wars at the dinner table, the shroud of a bed sheet; editor and contributing poet Pamela Gemin says women's poems of housework are peppered with harsh realities.

And yet, for many of these baby boomer poets, there is beauty in housework. They find comfort in the rituals of ironing, sweeping and the occasional scrub.

A selection of poems from Sweeping Beauty:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.