Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Political= Personal

Adrienne Rich believed that politics is intertwined and innate in every human. Politics are derived from what and when humans are emotional about. In 1969 Rich explored this aspect with her readers in the poem “The Blue Ghazals” when she writes, “The moment when a feeling enters the body/ is political. This touch is political.” Emotions and passions elicit political activism. Rich embodied this message by voicing her concerns through her poetry. One example is in her poem “Implosions,” placed around the time of the Vietnam War, suggests her discomfort about continuing the Vietnam War. The speaker of the poem has ways in which to stop the war. Rich writes, “My hands are knotted in the rope / and I cannot sound the bell” and “The foot is in the wheel” (13-14, 17). In each phrase the speaker has a way to stop the death, but refuses. It is only after it is all said and done that the speaker asks, “I’ll have done nothing / even for you” (22-23). When writing this poem, Rich was advocating that the people that could stop the war, chose to hold it out despite the continuing death toll. Rich wants the people holding back to do something, to have humanity for those that are dying. This poem is a great example of how emotion has driven Rich herself to write about political moves she does not agree with. She has taken her own wisdom to heart to expose her emotions, and essentially political position, about the seemingly never-ending Vietnam War.

The inseparable nature of feeling and politics was not only held by Rich, but one of her contemporaries, Audre Lorde. Lorde wrote in her essay, Poems are Not Luxury’s, about the interconnection between everyday life and emotion to a female responsibility to take action based on those initial feelings. She advocates for active participation of females in order to make this world a better place for generations to come. Lorde writes, “For there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt, of examining what our ideas really mean (feel like) on Sunday morning at 7 A.M., after brunch, during wild love, making war, giving birth; while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while tasting our new possibilities and strengths” (285). Essentially Lorde argues that there are no new concepts, only the way in which individuals perceive, experience, and act on the personal and intimate emotions. It is an individual’s responsibility to act on these feelings, which is in accordance with Rich’s view.

Lorde, Audre. “Poetry Is Not a Luxury.” Chrysalis: A Magazine of Female Culture, no. 3, 1977.

Rich, Adrienne Cecile. “The Blue Ghazals” The Will to Change: Poems 1968-1970. W.W. Norton and Company, 1971.

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