April 14, 2012

Adrienne Rich: Where does strength come from?

A critical analysis of things as they are, wearing a gender lens — this is an important feminist  preoccupation. It helps let the community of gender-watchers know what to look out for, what to take a view on and perhaps, also, what to oppose/rebel against.

But does it widen that community?

It does that to the extent it gives expression to shared concerns and prods collective understanding.

However, are we also directly celebrating those who have made a mark in presenting these analyses effectively? Are we consciously seeking out effective narratives?

If we are doing that, we must talk about Adrienne Cecile Rich. This American poet feminist wrote between the 50s and the 80s. Rich died this year, aged 82.

She wrote not only about gender subjugation, but also about capitalist, racial and military suppression, searching for and critiquing sources of power and strength. Her poems make you think.

In her poem, Power, Rich says –

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Though the poem says this about Marie Curie, the title clearly flags this as an idea applicable to all women. Motherhood as a source of power is an example in this context.

To know more about her and her work, often called militant, go to the New Yorker postscript, and click here and here.

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