We Need Your Help
Military V. Health
Right V. NEA, Again
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
MJ's Queer Family
You, Me & the SPP
Schwartz's Solidarity Stories
Gordon's Anarchy Alive
Yates's Working Class
Rich's Human Eye
SCENES OF RESISTANCE
Coups, UNASUR, U.S.
Hug Them While They Last
Nowhere To Fall
Hoodboy on Pakistan
Ramiro on Drug War
Zaps - 10-09
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
A Human Eye
Essays on Art and Society, 1996-2008
Book by Adrienne Rich; W.W. Norton, 2009, 280 pp.
Adrienne Rich's new book A Human Eye: Essays on Art and Society focuses on poets who write socially-engaged verse, such as Muriel Rukeyser, June Jordan, and Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), James Baldwin, an anthology called Iraqi Poetry Today—and spotlights lesser-known figures like San Francisco poet Thomas Avena who wrote about love and AIDS, and poet-critic James Scully who, like Rich, sees poetry in the context of social engagement. Overall, Rich's essays offer a guidebook to modern literature that—quoting Muriel Rukesyer—champions poetry as "an exchange of energy."
Rich's verse has investigated capitalism's and consumerism's impact on the human mind, while celebrating efforts at community. In this context, Rich notes Percy Bysshe Shelley's famous "Ode to the West Wind," which "aimed to rally a society-changing wind," driving as Shelley himself said, "dead thought…like withered leaves, to quicken a new birth."
We see an embracing of a romantic modernism in Rich's work, from "Atlas of a Difficult World" (1991) through "Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth" (2007). Her recent poetry explores how people who dream of "alternatives" should act in an individualistic, consumerist, and militaristic society. In "Fox" (2001), Rich chooses evasion to stay whole and returns to renewal and joy through the wellspring of love. "Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth" (2007), a long poem on European thinker Antonio Gramsci, stresses the value of integrity and the use of historical and theoretical analysis to understand the world.
A Human Eye derides commercially-saturated America: "Atomization and self-reference are promoted as ways of being—the surface American scene of lifestyles, passionless distractions, trivial choices without deep inner volition, sex without sensuality, irony as emotional distance, money as vocabulary for everything." In the essay "Permeable Membrane," Rich describes tackling the world in poetry by trying "to write subjective visions of objective conditions"—and that "[a]rt is a way of melting out through one's own skin." For Rich writing can effect "change" not just individually, but culturally, because "the matter of art enters the bloodstream of social energy."
In her essay on "The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov," Rich notes that their exchange formed a sense of community between them, typical of writers of the 1940s-1960s. In a lecture on American gay poetry, "Candidates for My Love," Rich notes that institutionalized "queer studies" have roots in 1960s social upheavals, though they were writers who did what they did, wrote what they wrote, without institutional prestige and support.
In A Human Eye, Rich, now publishing in her sixth decade, shares again what she called in an earlier book of essays, "what is found there."
Gregg Mosson is the author of Season of Flowers and Dust (Goose River Press) and editor of Poems Against War: A Journal of Poetry and Action (Wasteland Press).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.