We’d like to share with you this loving tribute to the late Adrienne Rich by WVFC’s own Carol Muske-Dukes, Rich’s friend and former Poet Laureate of California.  Below  are some of the opening paragraphs of the piece that appears in today’s Los Angeles Times.

It was a freezing night in March 1978 — and the small, determined woman climbing next to me up the icy incline to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for women leaned on a cane. I wanted to take her arm, but because she was famously fiercely independent, I hesitated. Later, I thought that I was right to hold back: Adrienne Rich was that kind of standard-bearer, accustomed to her own “climb,” accustomed to a righteous loneliness in her ascent.

In 1978, Adrienne Rich was not an old woman, but the degenerative arthritis that eventually crippled her had already begun to compromise her free movement — hence the cane. I was a young poet and feminist, an ardent admirer of the writer beside me, whom I had invited (along with a few other distinguished authors) to appear “on site” in prisons throughout New York state, as part of a lecture series/writing program I had organized. Adrienne was one of the few writers who agreed to appear “inside.”

She spoke to a tough room that night — the Bedford Hills inmates were both victims and perpetrators of violence, impatient and curious. Adrienne’s book, “Of Woman Born,” had been recently published — and the uncompromising revisionist view of motherhood in its pages was the subject of her talk. Her eloquent ferocity startled and enthralled her audience that night — as we left, the women were still asking questions about her book as guards led them away and ushered us to the exit.

Click here to read the rest.



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