The work of Adrienne Rich, her prose and poetry, led me to books by Andrea Dworkin, Judy Grahn, H.D., Louise Bogan, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Eleanor Ross Taylor and many more: Good and great poets who didn't catch on, are shunned in institutions, because these poets' work is "tainted" by anger, or by politics critical of the system, by what they had to say. The present world prefers the shimmering, the ineffable, the duende, the amusing. Poems we write hoping they are tickets into the system. Poems that are the literary equivalent of boned, skinned chicken breasts. Maybe she left a key somewhere as to where poetry can go next.
I and my friends at one time read Rich's works like scripture, but tired of Rich's politics when they weren't just about women anymore. I tried to read later books of her poems, but after Time's Power, they embarrassed me. Their politics were hemispheric and inclusive. Even she didn't sound convinced of them. But still to this day I read her prose with admiration. She was a poet who was also a thinker. When it was first published, there was nothing like he book Of Woman Born. There was no essay like "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence."
She's gone. There's nobody I can think of who can take her place. What will happen? Here's a quotation posted by playwright Joan Lipkin on Facebook. Worth re-reading:
"Whatever is unnamed, un-depicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying languageâ€“this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable."- Adrienne Rich