Adrienne Rich Quotes

No woman is really an insider in the institutions fathered by masculine consciousness. When we allow ourselves to believe we are, we lose touch with parts of ourselves defined as unacceptable by that consciousness; with the vital toughness and visionary strength of the angry grandmothers, the shamanesses, the fierce marketwomen of the Ibo's Women's War, the marriage-resisting women silkworkers of prerevolutionary China, the millions of widows, midwives, and the women healers tortured and burned as witches for three centuries in Europe.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. "What Does a Woman Need to Know?" Blood, Bread and Poetry (1986).
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When the landscape buckles and jerks around, when a dust column of debris rises from the collapse of a block of buildings on bodies that could have been your own, when the staves of history fall awry and the barrel of time bursts apart, some turn to prayer, some to poetry: words in the memory, a stained book carried close to the body, the notebook scribbled by hand—a center of gravity.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. What Is Found There, ch. 15 (1993).
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... the Wall became a magnet for citizens of every generation, class, race, and relationship to the war perhaps because it is the only great public monument that allows the anesthetized holes in the heart to fill with a truly national grief.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. What Is Found There, ch. 14 (1993). Written in 1991 about the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.: a black granite wall designed by Maya Lin and inscribed with the names of Americans who died in that war.
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We see daily that our lives are terrible and little, without continuity, buyable and salable at any moment, mere blips on a screen, that this is the way we live now. Memory marketed as nostalgia; terror reduced to mere suspense, to melodrama.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and essayist. What is Found There, ch. 3 (1993).
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A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill, what and when to burn, or even how to theorize. It reminds you ... where and when and how you are living and might live—it is a wick of desire.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. What Is Found There, ch. 28 (1993).
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I do not think [poetry] is more, or less, necessary than food, shelter, health, education, decent working conditions. It is as necessary.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and essayist. What Is Found There, preface (1993). Written in February 1993.
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We who were loved will never unlive that crippling fever.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. "After a Sentence in 'Malte Laurids Brigge'," Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963).
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... in a history of spiritual rupture, a social compact built on fantasy and collective secrets, poetry becomes more necessary than ever: it keeps the underground aquifers flowing; it is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. What Is Found There, ch. 16 (1993).
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The repossession by women of our bodies will bring far more essential change to human society than the seizing of the means of production by workers.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. From Of Woman Born (1986). As quoted in Moving Beyond Words, part 2, by Gloria Steinem (1994).
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War is bestowed like electroshock on the depressive nation; thousands of volts jolting the system, an artificial galvanizing, one effect of which is loss of memory. War comes at the end of the twentieth century as absolute failure of imagination, scientific and political. That a war can be represented as helping a people to "feel good" about themselves, their country, is a measure of that failure.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and essayist. What is Found There, ch. 3 (1993). Written in January 1991.
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