RIP: Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich died, and the world is a little less poetic – and a little less political – as a result.

By Adrienne Rich

You show me the poems of some woman
my age, or younger
translated from your language

Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow
enough to let me know
she’s a woman of my time


with Love, our subject:
we’ve trained it like ivy to our walls
baked it like bread in our ovens
worn it like lead on our ankles
watched it through binoculars as if
it were a helicopter
bringing food to our famine
or the satellite
of a hostile power

I begin to see that woman
doing things: stirring rice
ironing a skirt
typing a manuscript till dawn

trying to make a call
from a phonebooth

The phone rings unanswered
in a man’s bedroom
she hears him telling someone else
Never mind. She’ll get tired.
hears him telling her story to her sister
who becomes her enemy
and will in her own time
light her own way to sorrow

ignorant of the fact this way of grief
is shared, unnecessary
and political

3 Replies to “RIP: Adrienne Rich”

  1. I like her poetry. But. From the Acknowledgements section of Raymond’s “The Transsexual Empire”:

    “Adrienne Rich has been a very special friend and critic.
    She has read the manuscript through all of its stages and
    provided resources, creative criticism, and constant encouragement. Her work, and her recognition of my work, have meant a great deal to me in the process of this writing.”

    Unless Raymond was exaggerating greatly, this isn’t exactly something for Rich’s admirers to be proud of. Was she another Mary Daly? I can’t say I’ve heard her name mentioned in that context, so I would at least hope that her own writings don’t reflect it. I’m not about to go plumb through them looking for expressions of trans hatred; I’ve come across enough of that lately to last me quite a while.

  2. But also, from the Acknowledgements section of Leslie Feinberg’s “Transgender Warriors”:

    “For support that came in many forms, my gratitude to:”

    And from the Acknowledgements to Minnie Bruce Pratt’s “S/he”:

    “For the wonderful and lively conversations I’ve had about the ideas dealt with in this book, many thanks to:”

    That Adrienne Rich is credited in both lists of names should count for something, I think.

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