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Lost Writer Wednesday

Margaret Haughawout
Margaret Haughawout

This post is part of our Lost Writer Wednesdays blog series, an eight-week series and companion to NETNebraska’s Lost Writers of the Plains radio programming. Each week, we’ll spotlight long-forgotten writers once published in the early days of Prairie Schooner. For the full multi-media experience, download the iBook in the iTunes store.

by Mina Holmes

This week, we focus on Margaret Haughawout, whose poem “Hattie in Greenwich Village” graced the Prairie Schooner Winter 1931 issue. Haughawout, who received a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska, used her platforms as teacher and writer to challenge the expectations and assumptions placed on women, even wearing a tailored suit to class in order to emphasize her belief that women shouldn’t dress themselves for men. She openly rejected the separatist ideas of her Klan-affiliated colleagues at Pitt College in favor of joining the school’s Interracial Society. Thought by many to be eccentric, Haughawout was greatly admired by others for her forward-thinking attitude and her commitment to inspiring the same in her students.

In her lifetime, Haughawout produced numerous poems, but would only publish one book of poetry, Sheep’s Clothing. She also released essays and feminist stories under a pseudonym. Several of Haughawout’s poems explore the disconnect between image and identity, between what we project and who we truly are.

In “Hattie in Greenwich Village” Haughawout writes:

Your leering puffs, your little finger’s dare,
Your glittering italics on the word
You might not use before—this but betrays
The Presbyterian cradle-roll that reached
You in a Midwest town, the Kansas ways
You now despise. The little nasal bird
Tells Tale—your father must have taught or preached.

 


Lost Writers of the Plains is a collaboration between Prairie Schooner, the Center for Great Plains Studies, and NET Nebraska. To read more of Haughawout's poems from the PS archive, click here. For more on Haughawout and her life, click here. To view the entire Lost Writers of the Plains project, visit the NET Nebraska website.