reading poetry the day after church

Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012)

The more I read of the late Adrienne Rich’s poetry, the less attracted I am to it. I have been reading it chronologically in my collections. She is obviously classically adroit and uses many allusions. I love her politics. I am simultaneously working my way through her book of essays, What is Found There. These are wonderful.

The essay I was reading this morning (“The hermit’s scream”), alluded to two people I found interesting.

Rich points out that Nobel Peace Prize winner Alva Myrdal connects the arms race and “its needless excesses of armaments and its aggressive rhetoric” with “an ominous cult of violence in contemporary society.” (link to Myrdal’s 1982 Nobel Lecture, Disarmament, Technology and the Growth in Violence)

Alva Myrdal (née Reimer; 31 January 1902 – 1 February 1986) was a Swedish sociologist and politician. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982. (from Wikipedia)

We surely are living in a country whose personal violence, fear and anger is on the rise. I think it’s telling to connect this with global war and violence.

I wonder with Rich: “Why do I go as if poetry has any answers to that question [of violence]?” But go on I do.

Then she quotes in full a wonderful poem by Suzanne Gardinier.

                     Weekend America guest Suzanne Gardiner shared her poetry with us in honor of National Poetry Month.                                             (Dona Ann McAdams)
Suzanne Gardinier, Credit: Dona Ann McAdams

It’s called “to Peace” and I can’t find it online. Basically it addresses “Peace” and excoriates it as though it were a enemy. Since Gardinier is a living poet who chooses to keep her poetry offline, I will only quote a bit of it:

Peace I have feared you hated you scuffed dirt
on what little of you I could bear near me
scorned you called you vicious names…

Coward I have watched you buckle under
nightsticks and fire hoses You have
disgusted me slipping flowers in guns
holding hands with yourself singing to bullets
and dogs…

I have just interlibrary-loaned a couple of volumes by this woman.

She impresses me and I would like to know more.

Back to Rich’s poetry.  In my morning reading, both she and Sexton used the noun: “mica.” Since it was serendipitous it caught my attention. I noticed that it nicely contrasted the poets:


“Late afternoons the ice
squeaks underfoot like mica,”

from the poem, “Holding Out”


“On this island, Grandfather, made of your stuff,
a rubber squirrel sits on the kitchen table
coughing up mica like phlegm.

I stand in your writing room
with the Atlantic painting its way toward us
and ask why am I left with stuffed fish on the wall,
why am I left with rubber squirrels with mica eyes…”

from the poem “Grandfather, Your Wound”

The two poems in their entirety illustrate to me why as poets I respect Rich but love Sexton.

Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928, Newton, Massachusetts – October 4, 1974, Weston, Massachusetts)


Dorset Police Solve Mystery of Invisible Manuscript –

Blind woman begins to write a novel with a pen with no ink…. police tech to the rescue…


A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame –

“For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.”


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