Sunday, May 13, 2007

In Praise of Adrienne Rich

If you are a creative woman in need of space and time to produce your works, whether they be novels, songs, sculptures, photography, jewelry, murals, poetry, paintings, or even a rose out of a radish ... you MUST read Adrienne Rich's perfectly sized volume of essays and conversations, Arts of the Possible.

I will discuss several essays from this collection on this blog to give each the attention it deserves. For today's entry, here are a few thoughts on Rich's landmark essay, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision". As a mother and a writer, I know all too well the conflict between meeting the needs of the little people in the house on an every 5 minute basis, and trying helplessly to meet one's own basic needs, like eating a meal or taking a shower. How is a writer supposed to be able to fulfill the larger need of finding time to write, when having privacy in the restroom is a luxury? First I was a writer, then I became a mother, and realized that I had wasted valuable time by not racing towards my goals sooner. Why is it that motherhood creates a vacuum from which all time to create and be productive in one's individual pursuits is sucked away like a mighty wind? I realize there is no answer to that question. It is a fact that spare time dwindles when you become a parent. It is an honor to be given a precious life to nurture and care for, and my heart expands every day when I gaze upon my beautiful boys. I still need to write though. It is a fact. If I want to write books, I need to sit down and write - preferably without interruption. I have a sinking feeling that this is not going to happen until both boys are in college.

In Adrienne Rich's essay, "When We Dead Awaken," she breathes life into this notion that women deserve time and space to create. She even goes so far as to plainly state that without time to focus and delve into a subject or scene, the flow of writing becomes stilted and stifled:

"And a certain freedom of mind is needed - freedom to press on, to enter the currents of your thought like a glider pilot, knowing that your motion can be sustained, that the buoyancy of your attention will not be suddenly snatched away."

Amen, Adrienne Rich. You know what my writer's heart needs to hear.

More to follow. This is enough bark to chew on for now.

May 13, 2007
Mother's Day

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