During the days and weeks following the death of someone who is important, I find myself wishing I had given more attention to who they were before this happened, and devoting time now to remembering. For me this is a reminder to pay attention to how I spend my days and hours now with those I cherish most. But in thinking about the many writers and artists who I do not know personally, but who have influenced my life in such significant ways, I am again reminded of the importance of our choices in relation to what we read, what we view on television and film, and who we honor in our conversations. I cannot say that I have read everything that Adrienne Rich has written, and I certainly did not know her personally. But her death is a huge loss not only for me personally, but for the world. Her book “Of Woman Born” became a centerpiece informing not only how I view the world, but also who I became as a feminist scholar. Her poetry is beyond comparison in its depth, richness, clarity of conviction. I have returned over and over again to her essays – particularly one title “Claiming an Education,” reprinted in the Collection of her prose “On Lies, Secrets and Silence.” (of which I have an autographed copy!). I have tucked in her book a little pamphlet that bears the title “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying” which is a collection of many of her quotes. Among these is the line “Lying is done with words, but also with silence.”
The video that I am including here is a wonderful reminder of the honesty and integrity with which Adrienne Rich lived her life … and with which she wrote. It is well worth the time you will spend watching it. It was posted today on “Democracy Now.” It includes Amy Goodman’s interview with Alice Walker and with Francis Goldin, and also a clip of Adrienne Rich reading her poem “What Kinds of Times are These.” I hope you will take the time now to join me in paying tribute to the memory of the incomparable Adrienne Rich.