Wednesday, March 28, 2012

R.I.P. Adrienne Rich

I've only reviewed one book of hers on this little blog of mine, The Dream of A Common Language, but Adrienne Rich has been a huge inspiration to me over the past few years. I actually discovered her in the only upper-level English course I took, Modern American Poets, where I fell in love with Diving Into The Wreck. Her sharp images and strong political voice gave her writing a unique and memorable edge to it, even if you didn't always agree with what she was saying. I have read four of her books, and it reassures me to know that there are still many left waiting for me– some as near by as my book shelf– even as I saddened that there will not be any more. I find it so inspiring that she continued to work and publish even as she got older, and though 82 is not young, I can't help wishing she had just a little longer to grace the world with her words.

I feel the best homage is to simply share some of those words for those of you who have not stumbled upon her genius and passion. Here they are:
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: "I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.

Responsibility to yourself means that you don't fall for shallow and easy solutions--predigested books and ideas...marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short...and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be "different"...The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.”
-Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

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