The news of Adrienne Rich’s death yesterday at age 82 sent me immediately to my bookshelves and an extended swim through the currents of words she has left behind. All writers believe in the power of words—and maybe especially poets, whose words are fewer and so carefully chosen—but for me Rich’s writing particularly and persuasively argued for the ability of words, language, expression to create new realities, to change the world.
Writing that last post on the General Social Survey about women's unhappiness has really got me thinking about happiness and how to define happiness. In my post, I shared a quote from Nora Ephron in which she explains that in different eras, happiness could be defined as "a puppy," "a dry martini," or "knowing what your uterus looks like." What would happiness be defined as today? A smart phone?
April is National Poetry Month, and over the past few days I’ve been re-reading some poems by my favorite poet, Adrienne Rich. There’s so much that I love about Rich and her writing. I love how powerfully—and radically—she fuses political commitment and the pursuit of justice into her poetic vision. She writes provocatively on sexuality, race, language, power, and women’s culture as she combats racism, militarism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.