March 2012, Week 5


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Thu, 29 Mar 2012 21:18:52 -0400
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Adrienne Rich - A Great Voice is Stilled 

* Statement by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
* Adrienne Rich accepts the JFREJ risk taker award (2007)
* Transparencies by Adrienne Rich


With deep sorrow, we mourn the passing of Adrienne Rich.
Since the earliest days of Jews for Racial and Economic
Justice, Adrienne was an unflinching, unconditional
supporter of our work. She consistently reached out on our
behalf, bringing attention to the import and impact of
JFREJ, both locally and nationally. Whenever we needed her,
Adrienne was there. As JFREJ grew, Adrienne traveled along
with us, supporting the organization not just through deeds,
but through intellectual connection and analysis. She pushed
forward the ideas that pushed forward our work.  In addition
to being a visionary for the entire JFREJ community,
Adrienne was a great mentor and friend to many. It is hard
to imagine what JFREJ would be without the support and
inspiration of Adrienne Rich.

JFREJ honored Adrienne at the 2007 Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer
Risk-Taker Awards. Below is the citation presented to her at
the ceremony, followed by Adrienne's acceptance speech. May
her memory be for a blessing.

Marjorie Dove Kent
Executive Director
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice 


	When an artist has become one of the most respected
	and admired voices of her generation, it's easy to
	think of her as simply "part of the landscape."
	Adrienne Rich has never let that happen. She has
	been instead a model of engagement, wrestling with
	politics as with poetry. From early revelations of
	feminism, she yoked racism and sexism, mothering and
	revolution, opposing war and occupation, persisting
	in the will to change. From refusing the National
	Medal of the Arts from then-President Bill Clinton
	because, as she said, "the very meaning of art is
	incompatible with the cynical politics of this
	administration," to nurturing marginalized voices
	and diving into the wreckage of history to salvage
	new narratives of resistance, Adrienne Rich's every
	poem rebuts the assumption that politics is not the
	province of poetry. Her work has constantly
	interrogated notions of identity , nation, and home,
	asking: what does it mean to be a middle class
	woman, a white North American, a lesbian Jew, a
	Southerner, a citizen in a democracy?

	Her successful blending of aesthetics, politics and
	erotics has enriched contemporary poetry beyond
	measure and strengthened progressive politics in
	devastating times. For the unceasing beauty and
	power of her art and her activism, her creative
	demonstration of the power of art as activism, and
	her thrilling model of activism through and beyond
	art, JFREJ is honored to present Adrienne Rich with
	the 2007 Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award.


Adrienne Rich accepts the JFREJ risk taker award 



[Adrienne Rich, Frances Goldin, and Debbie Almontaser at the
2007 Meyer Awards. Click on the link to watch Adrienne's
acceptance speech.   http://youtu.be/NspKdpvf838]

This is the place where I realize I am at home, in this
company of comrades, friends and activists. In the presence
of so many courageous activists of the deed and the word, I
feel like a minor risk-taker. My admiration for the legacy
of Rabbi Marshall Meyer and the work of JFREJ has been
strong and deep. I live in California but I count myself a
member of JFREJ in diaspora. I also have enormous admiration
for the courageous self-organizing people with whom JFREJ
makes common cause in this city. So it's not just a figure
of speech to say that I am truly honored to be here, in the
company of NYCAHN, Debbie Almontaser, and the incomparable
Frances Goldin. Accepting this award has made me ponder the
word "risk." And the concept of safety, which lies behind
it, and which has become an American mantra. The idea that
safety is a commodity some can buy for themselves and their
children, regardless of who else lives at risk. Safety and
security. The debased currency for which we're urged to sell
our mental clarity, the facts of history, our political
imaginations, our possible solidarity with others. JFREJ has
seen past these deceptions and struggles to re-affirm and
reinvigorate the phrase "Tikkun Olam", and the phrase "New
York Jews." I thank you, with all my heart....

[listen to full speech and reading of two poems, the first
by Audre Lorde, and then her poem, Transparencies  -
http://youtu.be/NspKdpvf838 ]



That the meek word like the righteous word can bully
that an Israeli soldier interviewed years
after the first intifada could mourn on camera
what under orders he did, saw done, did not refuse
that another leaving Beit Jala could scrawl
on a wall:   We are truely sorry for the mess we made
is merely routine    word that would cancel deed
That human equals innocent and guilty
That we grasp for innocence whether or no
is elementary    That words can translate into broken bones
That the power to hurl words is a weapon
That the body can be a weapon
any child on playground knows   That asked your favorite
                                         in a game
you always named a thing, a quality, freedom or river
(never a pronoun, never God or War)

is taken for granted    That word and body
are all we have to lay on the line
That words are windowpanes in a ransacked hut, smeared
by time's dirty rains, we might argue
likewise that words are clear as glass till the sun strikes it blinding

But that in a dark windowpane you have seen your face
That when you wipe your glasses the text grows clearer
That the sound of crunching glass comes at the height of the
That I can look through glass
into my neighbor's house
but not my neighbor's life
That glass is sometimes broken to save lives
That a word can be crushed like a goblet underfoot
is only what it seems, part question, part answer: how
                                       you live it.



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