American poet and essayist Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, MD, and received her Bachelor’s from Radcliffe College. During her senior year, she penned A Change of World, which was awarded the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. She was recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, the National Institute of Arts and Letters award, and the Bollingen Foundation grant for the translation of Dutch poetry, among many many others. In 1971, she received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the National Book Award for Poetry in 1974, which she accepted on behalf of all women. She published over 30 books before her death in 2012.
December 25, 1972
You show me the poems of some woman
my age, or younger
translated from your language
Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow
enough to let me know
she’s a woman of my time
with Love, our subject:
we’ve trained it like ivy to our walls
baked it like bread in our ovens
worn it like lead on our ankles
watched it through binoculars as if
it were a helicopter
bringing food to our famine
or the satellite
of a hostile power
I begin to see that woman
doing things: stirring rice
ironing a skirt
typing a manuscript till dawn
trying to make a call
from a phonebooth
The phone rings endlessly
in a man’s bedroom
she hears him telling someone else
Never mind. She’ll get tired.
hears him telling her story to her sister
who becomes her enemy
and will in her own way
light her own way to sorrow
ignorant of the fact this way of grief
is shared, unnecessary
- “The Will to Change” by Meghan O’Rourke. Slate. 29 March 2012.
- “Adrienne Rich, Influential Feminist Poet, Dies at 82” by Margalit Fox. The New York Times. 28 March 2012.
- “Tonight No Poetry Will Serve,” Interview with Kate Waldman. The Paris Review. 2 March 2011.
Reading | October 29, 1999
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