Adrienne Rich dies at 82

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

I’m profoundly sad about Adrienne Rich’s death. I’m also profoundly grateful for her life and work. Don’t expect anything insightful from me. Nothing I can say will pay adequate homage. Just bookmarking this event on my blog for posterity, I guess.

I enjoy everything about her poetry, her politics, and the intersection of the two.  I enjoyed learning about her in Gale Swiontkowski’s Six American Poets class at Fordham. (The other poets were Plath, Sexton, Hughes, Heaney, and Lowell. Sharon Olds served as a bonus seventh.)

I enjoyed reading her poems. Here’s a bit from “Diving Into the Wreck:” 

I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

I leaf through my anthology from time to time, stopping and reflecting on the ones from Diving into the Wreck (still the best name for any book of poems…ever) and musing over the short section of juvenilia at the back.

And I enjoyed teaching her poems. “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” was always a class favorite–at once accessible and deep. “Rape” was less popular because of the subject matter but the students always felt like they were discussing something important instead of just feeding me back answers. Discussion so rarely becomes real dialogue in any classroom and I have Adrienne Rich to thank for some of the best lessons on poetry I ever taught.

But I can’t for the life of me remember my favorite poem. It was a tiny jewel, seldom taught which is why the interwebz have been no help. It was economic in it’s language yet emotive. Maybe that’s part of my sadness today. It’s been a long time since my days were filled with reading and discussing good poems. I need to pick up that anthology again.

Here’s Rich reading “Diving Into the Wreck.”

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