Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1929, Adrienne Rich received early recognition when her first book of poems was selected by W.H. Auden as the winner of the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1951. Rich later became an influential figure in the women's movement, and her political commitments have remained central to her poetry. In "What Kind of Times Are These"(1995), she describes a shadowy place in the woods where "the persecuted" have vanished—a place she refuses to locate except by saying that it is "not somewhere else but here." This parable-like poem raises difficult questions about the nature and dangers of leadership and the complicity of ordinary citizens in their government's uses (and abuses) of power. How can people, a place or a past be made to "disappear"? Why does Rich say that it is important to "talk about trees" in response? In what way is this kind of talk "necessary"?
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The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001. Norton, 2002.
Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.
How do we learn to have dialogue across difference? What does it look like?What is justice? How do we recognize it?What makes a good leader?What is the “status quo”? Does it need to be changed?In what ways does having money give us power?