In November, 2006, Adrienne Rich was awarded the 2006 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In her acceptance speech she observed, “…when poetry lays its hand on our shoulder, we can be to an almost physical degree touched and moved. The imagination’s roads open again, giving the lie to that slammed and bolted door, that razor-wired fence, that brute dictum.” Certainly this can be seen with the poem from which the title is derived for this collection of her work, called “Origins and History of Consciousness”:
No one lives in this room
without confronting the whiteness of the wall
behind the poems, planks of books,
photographs of dead heroines.
Without contemplating last and late
the true nature of poetry. The drive
to connect. The dream of a common language.