I was lucky to take a course taught by Adrienne Rich while she was at Stanford. It was a literature course focused on "outsider women" -- I can't remember what it was called. But it was then I was introduced to the very amazing work of Lillian Smith, Audre Lorde, and Frida Kahlo among others. I will never forget hearing--for the first time--the song Strange Fruit. This was back in the day and the class crowded around a boombox at the front of the room. We were transfixed. Here we were--mostly women--of all stripes and polka dots feeling the pain of the story Billie Holiday was singing. I can't explain the power of that moment.
About three years ago, I found a collection of Rich's I wasn't familiar with: A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far.
from "For Memory"
Freedom. It isn't once, to walk out
under the Milky Way, feeling the rivers
of light, the fields of dark--
freedom is daily, prose-bound, routine
remembering. Putting together, inch by inch
the starry worlds. From all the lost collections."
It was one of those days when I found exactly what I needed.--Strangely, only a few weeks later I saw Rich at a restaurant in New York City. She was gracious enough to let me interrupt her family meal to say hello.
I learned so much from Adrienne Rich's poetry. I learned so much from her vision. She will be missed.