We lost something special yesterday.
RIP Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you…it 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.”
My own reflection: I have had the opportunity both personally and academically to read Rich. I always found myself drawn to her. But she is one of those authors that makes me wonder why I write. I either want to say, “What she said” or think to myself, “How could I possibly say it different or better?” Enjoy the reading below shared of her poem “What Kind of Times Are These?”
- Writing as a Social Practice (Huff Post)
- “If you think you can grasp me, think again” (“Delta”-Poetry Archive)
- A Poet of Unswerving Vision at the Forefront of Feminism (NY Times)
- Adrienne Rich: A Resolution Amid the ‘Turbulence’ (NPR)