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A Saturday Woman Poet, Adrienne Cecile Rich

Adrienne Cecile Rich has been nominated for the 2011 National Book Award , so no better time to link to her opus. Adrienne is 82 years old and a poet of force. I thought to add a  poem and biography here to celebrate.

Adrienne Cecile Rich, pic from Google images/JWA
 

Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Cecile Rich.

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.


This poem is for lovers of poetry, for those who read women poets and wonder at the gender-imbalance in literary publication. I have decided to keep it simple and to add my favourite Rich , alongside a reading list. This site has always been about encouraging poetry writers and readers to research books that they enjoy and bringing the amazing words of women writers into view. We have a visibility issue which is deeply questionable in my view. There are  now 62 Saturday Woman Poets published here since 2008.

Link Bibliography for Adrienne Cecile Rich.

The Poem Read by Rich.

A Saturday Woman Poet, Adrienne Cecile Rich

Banalities Translated from the Chinese , by Kurt Schwitters.

Banalities translated from the Chinese

Flies have short lice.
To hurry is wit in a flurry.
Red raspberries are red.
The end is the beginning of every end.
The beginning is the end of every beginning.
Banality becomes all respectable citizens.
Bourgeoisie is the beginning of every bourgeois.
Spice makes short jokes nice.
All women hate mice.
Every beginning has an end.
The world is full of smart people.
Smart is dumb.
Not everything called expressionism is expressive art.
Dumb is smart.
Smart remains dumb.

Banalitäten aus dem Chinesischen , by Kurt Schwitters .

I was looking for poems based in the Dada era this lovely morning , wishing to publish my favourite one, Anna Blume but decided to add the above and a link to Anna Blume instead.

Banalities Translated from the Chinese , by Kurt Schwitters.