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posted by [personal profile] selkie at 12:05pm on 29/03/2012
I was working on a poem when I learned that Adrienne Rich had died. The fact of this is going to stick with me.

I don't think I accepted myself as a poet until last year, though I have been writing (and winning things for) poetry since I began to write expressively in English, around age nine. So -- a long time. Oy. But in high school and college, instructors harsh and well-meaning nudged (pushed) me toward fiction; this is what you're good at. The other one you're not.

And I can write fiction; at least, I do write it. But I wanted so much to be a poet, because in the dark and terrible time of my life, some hospital book cart yielded to me (and I had them a very long time) Anne Sexton's Transformations and Adrienne Rich's Diving into the Wreck.  They were not particularly good copies, they were early editions of both, young women by the time I got them as a child.

They were transformative and lifesaving. When I was older I could talk to you about Eliot (Oh, Jesus, I apologize to all the people I talked to about Eliot) and I still know too much of Prufrock off by heart; I added Stevie Smith and Sylvia Plath and Eavan Boland and Louise Gluck to my poetry shelf, and those poets informed my voice. (Marge Piercy, too, mostly in the vein of dear God let me never sound the bitter old woman like last year's etrog that is a Marge Piercy poem. )

But Adrienne Rich I carried with me, in my blue leather secondhand suitcase, through childhood, high school, college, and graduate school, and her words were my friends. I lost the books in graduate school, and I'm sure my wife would buy them for me again, but I don't need them because -- like memories you store up for when your dear friend is across the country -- I don't need the books to hold on to the words.

You cry when friends go; you can't help it.

A living friend (and a real poet and a lover of poetry, even poetry of the postmodern ironic sort I can't stand) says memory is all we can give the dead. I will remember Diving... and Midnight Salvage and I will pass my copies down to my daughter. And I'll close the door on this slightly maudlin obituary with, sure, why not, Anne Sexton, in Adrienne Rich's honor: A woman who loves a woman is forever young.

There are 3 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
 
posted by [identity profile] nineweaving.livejournal.com at 05:14pm on 29/03/2012
Her memory for a blessing.

Nine
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
posted by [personal profile] gwynnega at 07:42pm on 29/03/2012
her words were my friends.

Yes.
sovay: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sovay at 04:28am on 30/03/2012
You cry when friends go; you can't help it.

*hugs*

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