Endless Beginner: Adrienne Rich in the Twenty-First Century
Re-reading Adrienne Rich in the quickly shifting crises of the year 2020, one senses the renewed urgency of her ethico-political project as a citizen poet seeking to “believe the fever can break, the sick body politic come back to life” (A Human Eye 98). Throughout her poetic career Rich challenged the perceived disconnect between poetry and material social good, and while her early and mid-career poems may be the most frequently anthologized, the poetry and prose she published in the second half of her six-decade project continues an extraordinary trajectory of expanding solidarities and poetic technique. These later poems and essays exemplify a “responsive, responsible” self-interrogation of how connection across difference and keen attention to locatedness, relationship, and language might undergird collective hope and action toward material justice. They are essential reading for today.
This special issue of Arizona Quarterly will return to Rich’s work in a twenty-first century frame. Building on the momentum of the recently published collections and studies of Rich’s writing and life, the issue will further the scholarly conversation of Rich’s work as a poet, theorist, and cultural critic, paying particular attention to the writing she did from the 1980s forward and its participation in the “long dialogue between art and justice” (Arts of the Possible 114).
Of special interest will be papers that engage with lesser-known poems and essays or represent new directions in the study of Rich’s work. Contributors might consider such topics as
- Rich and the (auto)biographical
- The renewed role of the citizen-poet (e.g., Rich and Rankine)
- Rich as theorist, translator, or literary critic
- Re-reading Of Woman Born in light of contemporary parenting pressures
- The influence and limitations of Rich’s gender politics for subsequent generations of feminist and queer activists
- Rich’s intersectional poetics
- Rich’s anti-racist and decolonial citational practices
- Rich’s later turn to Marx
- Rich and the archives
- Rich and the populated lyric
- Teaching Rich in the twenty-first century
Please submit 500-word abstract and CV, as well as any inquiries, to Cynthia Wallace (cwallace[at]stmcollege.ca) by 1 December 2020. Papers will be due by March 2021 for a round of edits before submission to the journal for peer review in summer 2021.