Focus of Political Poet, Adrienne Rich Essay

Focus of Political Poet, Adrienne Rich Essay

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Most critics focus mainly on Adrienne Rich’s feminism; however, she describes herself differently. In an interview with Michael Klein her first concern is with politics:
I came out first as a political poet, even before The Dream of a Common Language, under the taboo against so-called political poetry in the US, which was comparable to the taboo against homosexuality. In other words, it wasn't done. And this is, of course, the only country in the world where that has been true. Go to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Asia, to Africa, to Europe, and you find the political poet and a poetry that addresses public affairs and public discourse, conflict, oppression, and resistance. That poetry is seen as normal. And it is honored (A Rich Life).
Even Diving into the Wreck plays a more general note of individuality than of feminism; in the words of Judith Lewin, ‘In Rich’s 1972 poem “Diving into the Wreck,” the lyrical voice is that of a diver, who, as her body descends in the water, resists the distraction of undersea life in order to pursue her goal, both the exploration of a sunken ship and the exploration of self’(54).
Nevertheless it is the feminist side of Rich that provokes most discussion. Monica Fagan presents Rich’s belief in a kind of feminine bonding asserting that in her essay "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" Rich argues that whether or not girls and women desire physical genital contact with one another, friendship and camaraderie can fuse with eroticism to form an intimate bonding among them. Rich suggests that this "lesbian continuum," as she refers to the bonding, has "many more forms of primary intensity among women, including the bonding against male tyranny, the sharing of a rich inner life, ...


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... which corporeal stimulation, the incitement to discourse the intensification of pleasures, the gathering of particular knowledge and the empowering of controls and resistances, are associated with one another, in accordance with a number of major strategies of power and knowledge ( qtd. in Halperin 258).
Rich also has concerns other than feminist issues. Piotr Gwiazda asserts that in an interview with Bill Moyers Rich comments that the title poem of her 1991 volume An Atlas of the Difficult World, “reflects on the condition of my country which I wrote very consciously as a citizen poet, looking at the geography, the history, the people of my country.” She was inspired by the Persian Gulf War of 1991, which on a different occasion she presents as the first Bush administration’s plan to turn the attention of the people away from domestic “anger and despair” (165).

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