Adrienne Rich, fully Adrienne Cecil Rich

Rich, fully Adrienne Cecil Rich

American Poet, Non-Fiction Writer and Essayist

Author Quotes

To seek visions, to dream dreams, is essential, and it is also essential to try new ways of living, to make room for serious experimentation, to respect the effort even where it fails.

We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for... many facets of our own oppression.

What I discerned in the U.S. was a convergence of poetic voices coming from many different rents in the social fabric, many cultures, many tributaries, which, together, make up the American poetry of the late twentieth century.

When those who have the power to name and to socially construct reality choose not to see you or hear you...when someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing. It takes some strength of soul--and not just individual strength, but collective understanding--to resist this void, this non-being, into which you are thrust, and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard.

You look at me like an emergency.

It is crucial that we understand lesbian/feminism in the deepest, most radical sense: as that love for ourselves and other women, that commitment to the freedom of all of us, which transcends the category of "sexual preference" and the issue of civil rights, to become a politics of asking women's questions, demanding a world in which the integrity of all women--not a chosen few--shall be honored and validated in every respect of culture.

Marriage is lonelier than solitude.

Nothing can be done but by inches. I write out my life hour by hour, word by word . . . imagining the existence of something uncreated this poem our lives.

Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.

Since we're not young, weeks have to do time for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp in time tells me we're not young.

The difficulty of saying I-a phrase from the East German novelist Christa Wolf. But once having said it, as we realize the necessity to go further, isn't there a difficulty of saying 'we'? You cannot speak for me. I cannot speak for you. Two thoughts: there is no liberation that only knows how to say 'I'; there is no collective movement that speaks for each of us all the way through.

The most notable fact that our culture imprints on women is a sense of our limits. The most important thing a woman can do for another is to illuminate her actual possibilities.

The Vietnam War Memorial 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.

There's been real hostility toward political poetry in the U.S., hostility or, at best, incomprehension. I'm speaking of those who have institutional power over what gets published, over grants and prizes and reviewing. Most of them, though not all, are white and male. But even as American society is unravelling, becoming more violent and punitive, wonderful political poets have been emerging.

To work and suffer is to be at home. All else is scenery.

We have lived with violence far too long.

What I search for continuously in my art is adequate language, language I hope can stand beyond any particular occasion. What I'm finding is that in our increasingly dysfunctional U.S. society, marvelous poetry is being written - out of and amid the dysfunction.

When you falter, all eludes. This is a seasick way, this almost - never touching, this drawing-off, this to-and-fro. Subtlety stalks in your eyes, your tongue knows what it knows. I want your secrets - I will have them out. Seasick, I drop into the sea.

You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.

It is important to possess a short-term pessimism and a long-term optimism.

Most women have not even been able to touch this anger, except to drive it inward like a rusted nail.

Nothing could have prepared me for the realization that I was a mother ... when I knew I was still in a state of uncreation myself.

Poetry is, among other things, a criticism of language.

Sleep comes hard. I?d rather lie awake and read.

The effect of male-identification means ?internalizing the values of the colonizer and actively participating in carrying out the colonization of one?s self and one?s sex? Male identification is the act whereby women place men above women, including themselves, in credibility, status, and importance in most situations, regardless of the comparative quality the women may bring to the situation?. Interaction with women is seen as a lesser form of relating on every level.

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Rich, fully Adrienne Cecil Rich
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American Poet, Non-Fiction Writer and Essayist