Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Adrienne Rich

Well she was just amazing! The venue was The Pleasance in Edinburgh, a small intimate space, which she said she liked as it reminded her of a bookshop. (She read at the Festival Hall in London last week)
She is tiny, Piaf like, with hair cut stylish short and dark. Her face is very bright and alert,and her eyes miss nothing. Physically she's very frail, using a walker to get around, but her voice is strong and very clear. She read extensively from her latest book, "the school among the ruins", including the title poem, Tell Me, To Have Written The Truth, and Transparencies.

She said these days she thinks a lot about the nature of happiness and whether one can actually be happy while others suffer. She also spoke about her gratitude to translators, and said their work didn't receive enough acknowledgement, but that she was truly grateful to them as they made so many other wonderful poets available to her. She clearly reads masses of other poets, and enjoys weaving reference to them into her own work. The notes on the poems in the latest book sometimes refer to two or three other poets within a single poem. She also said that she loved airports, and the snippets of people's conversations/lives that she overhears, and she read a poem based on these bits of lives. She also read another poem about the disappearance, erosion, or as she put it the rusting of all left wing values in the US.

Sorry this is not a very in depth report, I wish I'd taken a few notes, but I was too caught up in listening to her read. And she didn't actually say that much in between poems, I think she wanted to read as many as she could, and let them speak for themselves.

She did a signing and she signed my copies of the school among the ruins, and a Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far. I'll treasure them. Her first and last visit to Scotland was in 1994, so this was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear her read.

She was interviewd this morning on BBC R4 Woman's Hour and gave a much more expansive interview. Asked if she was optimistic about women's progress she quoted something along the lines of "I'm a pessimist by intellect and an optimist by will"


Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Wow that is amazing! I've read the blog of someone who saw and heard Adrienne Rich!(As in, I shook the hand ...)

8:37 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

I know, I feel very privileged, and really feel the opportunity should have fallen to someone more deserving and knowledgeable. It was one of those occasions when you know you're before greatness and you just feel tongue tied and stupid.

She speaking at Striling University today. I've updated the blog with her BBC R4 interview.

11:57 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Stirling University, grrr!

11:58 am  
Blogger Cailleach said...

Lucky, lucky you! I am so envious. A poet of her class does not come along every day.

Hopefully some of what she said will percolate down to us mortals un jour...

In the meantime, I think what you've written stands as some testimony - thanks Apprentice!

9:46 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks Cailleach. Yes I think she's a prophet. She seems to feel others pain so acutely and to be able to articulate it it such an intelligent and unsetimental way.

I doubt most of us could survive wearing our heart on our sleeve to that extent.

The world this morning already seems a much crazier place.

10:56 am  

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