Tribute to Adrienne Rich

Presentation by Eric Karpeles

Adrienne Rich, who died at her home in Santa Cruz on March 27, 2012, was a writer and thinker of enormous stature. Her first book of poetry was singled out by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets series in 1951 and Rich continued publishing books of poems in every subsequent decade. She used her awareness of herself as a woman—full of passion and compassion, gentleness, rage—as a framework to understand the inequities of modern life. Unabashed in her critical thinking, she possessed a unique and oracular voice in American poetry.

…I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslateable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me       And has
taken      I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images       for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.

—Adrienne Rich, from “Planetarium,” 1971


Eric Karpeles

Commonweal Board Member Eric Karpeles is a gifted painter, author of Paintings in Proust, and translator of Proust’s Overcoat. A graduate of Haverford College, Oxford University, and The New School, he lived in France in the 1970s, holding fellowships both at la Cité des Arts in Paris and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis. Karpeles writes about painting and the intersection of literature and visual aesthetics. Find out more about Eric on his website.