Monday, April 2, 2018

A is for Adrienne Rich: Passionate Skepticism

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 400 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.


Adrienne Rich is one of the first unapologetically feminist writers to come onto my personal radar. I found her work when I was a college student, studying creative writing alongside my education, Spanish, and English courses. That's when I found a lot of the poets that I still hold dear in my heart.

What drew me to Rich's work, though, wasn't her feminism. I was still awkwardly feminist then, hadn't claimed the label, even though I held the ideals. No, what I fell in love with in Rich's poetry was the bold stark statements that she made with utter sureness. They felt like proclamations, like truths.
Lines like: 

"Lying is done with words and also with silence." (from a speech-turned-essay titled “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying.” 
"A thinking woman sleeps with monsters. The beak that grips her, she becomes." (from “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law") 
“It will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
It will be short, it will not be simple” (from "Final Notations")
Some poets I read for the small picture, the individual detail, the personal. Adrienne Rich I read for the big picture, the philosophy, the sweeping vista, the same way I read Ursula LeGuin in prose: writers of IDEAS rather than writers of MOMENTS.

The older I get, the more I find in Rich's work that speaks for and to me. I ran across this quote from her as I was looking at her work for this post, and I think it summarizes that philosophy pretty darn well, a philosophy that is becoming my own, as well:
From Credo of a Passionate Skeptic: "I began as an American optimist, albeit a critical one, formed by our racial legacy and by the Vietnam War...I became an American Skeptic, not as to the long search for justice and dignity, which is part of all human history, but in the light of my nation's leading role in demoralizing and destabilizing that search, here at home and around the world. Perhaps just such a passionate skepticism, neither cynical nor nihilistic, is the ground for continuing."

1 comment:

  1. I never heard of Adrienne Rich before, a grievous slight because she sounds amazing. Thank you for putting her on my radar!