Friday, January 8, 2010

Wherever in this City

A very important poet is reading @ the Capitola Book Cafe in Santa Cruz next Tuesday night and I would like to attend. The poet, of course, is Adrienne Rich. However, Santa Cruz isn't exactly the hop-skip-and-a-jump that, say, Half Moon Bay is from San Francisco. Will I do it?

The event was brought to my attention by the Poetry Flash website, which I check up on quite frequently. It is the quintessential source for literary events, from poetry readings to poetry festivals to poetry conferences. Poetry Poetry Flash! You name it, and it's on the Poetry Flash Calendar. I was first introduced to their calendar when I used to intern for them in Berkeley and I myself used to update it with events! Visit their website here for poetry happenings in your neck of the woods.

Alright, enough with my plug for their amazing-ness. While scanning the Northern California January events page, I came upon Adrienne Rich's reading in Santa Cruz. She is one of my favorite poets. I first discovered her the fall semester of year 2 in my M.F.A. program. I took a class called 'Innovative Poetics,' in which we covered prominent poetry movements of the 20th Century--from the Black Mountain Poets, to the New York School, to the Objectivists, to the Language Poets. We studied Adrienne Rich as a part of the First Wave Feminist Movement of the 60s and 70s. Her critical poem 'Diving Into the Wreck' depicts a boldness in language that can only be powered by truth. Click here to hear the poem read aloud by the poet Anne Waldman.

Discovery is one thing, but love is another. And I did not fall in love with Adrienne Rich until I read her Twenty-One Love Poems from the collection "The Dream of a Common Language." The title speaks for itself, but the poems, each in their own distinct moments, must be read word for word to fully see the side of love she presents. Love for oneself and love for another. And always from the perspective of the poet. She writes:

"What kind of beast would turn its life into words?
What atonement is this all about?
--and yet, writing words like these, I'm also living."

She rationalizes the poet's way with not a hint of force. As if, to write is to breathe. We don't beat ourselves up for inhaling and exhaling throughout the day, why must we lash out for expressing our art or for feeling our passion. I look to poets like Adrienne Rich for guidance. Maybe one day I will hear such words spoken from the poet herself. I would be oh-so-bold to venture to Santa Cruz next Tuesday night. Perhaps curling up with her book at home will be enough. After all, reading words like hers, I am also living...


  1. I was just introduced to this beauty by my new friend Kat from Seattle. "Stepping Backward" is a force. Besos...

  2. Megan-
    I would definitely be interested in going down to Santa Cruz for this if we could make it work. We could inspire each other to go...

    let me know if you are really going to do it; I'm not sure timing will work out but email me if you are interested. (