Adrienne Rich Quotes

The necessity of poetry has to be stated over and over, but only to those who have reason to fear its power, or those who still believe that language is "only words" and that an old language is good enough for our descriptions of the world we are trying to transform.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. The Work of a Common Woman, by Judy Grahn, preface: "Power and Danger," (1978).
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Language is as real, as tangible, in our lives as streets, pipelines, telephone switchboards, microwaves, radioactivity, cloning laboratories, nuclear power stations.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. The Work of a Common Woman, by Judy Grahn, introductory essay (1978).
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Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. The Work of a Common Woman, by Judy Grahn, introductory essay (1978).
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There is the falsely mystical view of art that assumes a kind of supernatural inspiration, a possession by universal forces unrelated to questions of power and privilege or the artist's relation to bread and blood. In this view, the channel of art can only become clogged and misdirected by the artist's concern with merely temporary and local disturbances. The song is higher than the struggle.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. Title essay, Blood, Bread and Poetry (1986).
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... such are the secret outcomes of revolution! that two women can meet ... as two eyes in one brow receiving at one moment the rainbow of the world.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and feminist. "To Judith, Taking Leave," lines 81-83 and 86-88 (1962). More than a decade later, Rich would "come out" as a lesbian.
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False history gets made all day, any day, the truth of the new is never on the news False history gets written every day ... the lesbian archaeologist watches herself sifting her own life out from the shards she's piecing, asking the clay all questions but her own.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. "Turning the Wheel," section 2, lines 1-3 and 5-7 (1981).
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... how have I used rivers, how have I used wars to escape writing of the worst thing of all— not the crimes of other, not even our own death, but the failure to want our freedom passionately enough so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and lesbian feminist. Twenty-One Love Poems, poem #7, lines 8-13 (1974-76).
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Your small hands, precisely equal to my own— only the thumb is larger, longer—in these hands I could trust the world, or in many hands like these, handling power-tools or steering-wheel or touching a human face ...
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and lesbian feminist. Twenty-One Love Poems, poem #6, lines 1-5 (1974-76). On the notion of a world managed by women.
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of artists dying in childbirth, wise-women charred at the stake, centuries of books unwritten piled behind these shelves; and we still have to stare into the absence of men who would not, women who could not, speak to our life—this still unexcavated hole called civilization, this act of translation, this half-world.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and feminist. Twenty-One Love Poems, poem #5, lines 15-20 (1974-76). Reflecting on her large personal library and on what, due to women's subordination over the centuries, was probably "missing" from it.
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Narrowed-down by her early editors and anthologists, reduced to quaintness or spinsterish oddity by many of her commentators, sentimentalized, fallen-in-love with like some gnomic Garbo, still unread in the breadth and depth of her full range of work, she was, and is, a wonder to me when I try to imagine myself into that mind.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. repr. In On Lies, Secrets, and Silence (1980). "Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson," Parnassus: Poetry in Review (New York, Fall-Winter 1976). Of Emily Dickinson.
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