When Eric and I got married, as part of our vows he read an Adrienne Rich poem to me; I read one of Shakespeare’s love sonnets to him. I loved that Eric was reading a lesbian love poem to me at our wedding, as if by that act we were affirming love in all its expressions and rejecting society’s rejection of love between people of the same gender. Adrienne Rich’s Diving Into the Wreck was one of my most cherished books in my early 20’s and I read it over and over, trying to master some of her poetic clarity and vision. I got to hear her read her brilliant and brave poetry when I was at the University of Massachusetts in the 70’s and I still remember her halting walk up to the podium in a large lecture hall, already struggling with rheumatoid arthritis, but unimpeded in the power of her voice. When I was pregnant with our first child, I asked Eric to read Rich’s Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution — I wanted Eric to enter into parenthood with me holding the same feminist analysis of how women are shaped by societal expectations of motherhood. He read the book, and I think we were better parents because of it. We named our daughter Adrienne.
Adrienne Rich died on Tuesday, and the NY Times has published a wonderful tribute to her, A Poet of Unswerving Vision at the Forefront of Feminism. It could be the most important thing you read today.