Thinking about Derek Wolcott, Adrienne Rich and. . .

. . . me.

I read an article recently in which a critic made a disparaging remark about women’s blogs, how it was fortunate that so many women out in the sticks had an outlet.

An outlet? An outlet? As opposed to, say, writing book reviews in a journal that probably has far less readers than those little, ole, bloggy thingies, right?

Okay, Jane, breathe. Breathe deeply.

Anyway, the snide remark got me thinking about a speech the poet Adrienne Rich gave at Smith College thirty four years ago during the height of the feminist movement. I had to dig around to find the quote I wanted. Here it is . . .

“When those who have the power to name and to socially construct reality choose not to see you or hear you . . . when someone with authority describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing. It takes some strength of soul to resist this void, this non-being, into which you are thrust, and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard.”

That strength of soul is what you are witnessing in many women’s blogs and self-published books. They may seem traditional on the surface, but that belies a greater subversiveness I think. In another statement, Rich tells us “A revolutionary [ work of art] reminds you where and when and how you are living, and might live. It is a wick of desire.”

Is that not true of so many of the non-commercial women’s blog and novels? And that wick of desire? That’s what my novel Palace of the Blue Butterfly and my website represent to me.

And then I remembered a poem I wanted to share with you by the Caribbean, post-Colonial, Nobel Prize winning poet Derek Wolcott. He uses the convention of a traditional love poem, but this time, the returning lover is the despised colonized self who has broken free from the colonizer’s destructive grip.

This poem reminds us where and when and how we are living and might live

Love After Love
by Derek Wolcott

The day will come,
the time will come,
when with elation you greet yourself,
arriving at your own door.
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
saying “Sit here, eat.”
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine, give bread,
give back your heart to itself.
To the stranger who has loved you all your life,
whom you ignored for another,
who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs
the desperate notes.
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit, feast on your life.

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