Adrienne Rich Quotes

To become a token woman—whether you win the Nobel Prize or merely get tenure at the cost of denying your sisters—is to become something less than a man ... since men are loyal at least to their own world-view, their laws of brotherhood and self-interest.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. feminist poet and essayist. As quoted in Ms. magazine, p. 44 (September 1979). In a May 7, 1979, Smith College commencement address.
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The danger lies in forgetting what we had. The flow between generations becomes a trickle, grandchildren tape-recording grandparents' memories on special occasions perhaps—no casual storytelling jogged by daily life, there being no shared daily life what with migrations, exiles, diasporas, rendings, the search for work. Or there is a shared daily life riddled with holes of silence.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. What Is Found There, ch. 11 (1993).
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The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. Aunt Jennifer's Tigers (l. 7-8). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
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Popular culture entered my life as Shirley Temple, who was exactly my age and wrote a letter in the newspapers telling how her mother fixed spinach for her, with lots of butter.... I was impressed by Shirley Temple as a little girl my age who had power: she could write a piece for the newspapers and have it printed in her own handwriting.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. What Is Found There, ch. 21 (1993). Shirley Temple (b. 1928), who in fact was slightly older than Rich, was an extremely popular child movie performer.
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Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen, Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. Aunt Jennifer's Tigers (l. 1-2). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
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We assume that politicians are without honor. We read their statements trying to crack the code. The scandals of their politics: not so much that men in high places lie, only that they do so with such indifference, so endlessly, still expecting to be believed. We are accustomed to the contempt inherent in the political lie.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. repr. In On Lies, Secrets, and Silence (1980). Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying (originally published 1977). Paper read at Hartwick College, New York, June 1975.
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Across the curve of the earth, there are women getting up before dawn, in the blackness before the point of light, in the twilight before sunrise; there are women rising earlier than men and children to break the ice, to start the stove, to put up the pap, the coffee, the rice, to iron the pants, to braid the hair, to pull the day's water up from the well, to boil water for tea, to wash the children for school, to pull the vegetables and start the walk to market, to run to catch the bus for the work that is paid. I don't know when most women sleep!
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 15 (1986). From a talk given at the First Summer School of Critical Semiotics, Conference on Women, Feminist Identity and Society in the 1980s, in Utrecht, Holland, on June 1, 1984.
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...I ... believe that words can help us move or keep us paralyzed, and that our choices of language and verbal tone have something—a great deal—to do with how we live our lives and whom we end up speaking with and hearing; and that we can deflect words, by trivialization, of course, but also by ritualized respect, or we can let them enter our souls and mix with the juices of our minds.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 5 (1986). From "Toward a More Feminist Criticism," an address delivered by Rich at the opening of the "Feminist Studies in Literature" symposium, University of Minnesota, 1981.
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...Women's Studies can amount simply to compensatory history; too often they fail to challenge the intellectual and political structures that must be challenged if women as a group are ever to come into collective, nonexclusionary freedom.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 1 (1986). From a 1979 commencement address delivered at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.
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We have seen over and over that white male historians in general have tended to dismiss any history they didn't themselves write, on the grounds that it is unserious, unscholarly, a fad, too "political," "merely" oral and thus unreliable.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 8 (1986). From the Clark Lecture which she delivered at Scripps College in Claremont, California, on February 15, 1983.
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