lipstick

Be Insatiable

Adrienne Rich - Section 2 of Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (0'54"). Rich read the title sequence of her 1963 volume in a set recorded at Cornell in 1985. All ten sections can be heard here (8'12"). • Section two is cited by Rich in her famous essay "When We Dead Awaken," first delivered as an MLA talk in 1971 and revised for publication in 1972 and 1978. The essay concludes with this sharp assessment of the state of patriarchal poetry as the seventies commenced:

To the eye of a femininist, the work of Western male poets now writing reveals a deep, fatalistic pessimism as to the possibilities of change, whether societal or personal, along with a familiar and threadbare use of women (and nature) as redemptive on the one hand, threatening on the other; and a new tide of phallocentric sadism and overt woman-hating which matches the sexual brutality of recent films. "Political" poetry by men remains stranded amid the struggles for power among male groups; in condemning U.S. imperialism or the Chilean junta the poet can claim to speak for the oppressed while remaining, as male, part of a system of sexual oppression. The enemy is always outside the self, the struggle somewhere else. The mood of isolation, self-pity, and self-imitation that pervades "nonpolitical" poetry suggests that a profound change in masculine consciousness will have to precede any new male poetic—or other—inspiration. The creative energy of patriarchy is fast running out; what remains is its self-generating energy for destruction. As women, we have our work cut out for us.

Previously here on Lipstick of Noise, Rich's Divisions of Labor.

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Thursday -- 31 January 2008 -- permalink

The Lipstick of Noise is a product of the Third Factory • Inspired by the music blogs • And by Paul Blackburn's reel-to-reel deck. Intending to make good use of PENNSound and other sources of digital audio files of poetry • Comments welcomeXML.