21 Inspiring Quotes From Feminist Icon Adrienne Rich That Will Challenge Your Perspective On Life

Adrienne Rich was a powerful feminist, essayist, and poet who dramatically changed the 20th century for women, particularly lesbians, through controversial writing about politics, racism, the anti-war movement, social justice, and radical feminism. Her award-winning writing includes A Change of World (1951), Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963), and Diving into the Wreck (1973), among others. Below are 21 bold, thought-provoking quotes from the legend herself.

Alexandra Bellink
Alexandra Bellink

1. “The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.”

2. “She shaves her legs until they gleam like petrified mammoth-tusk.”

3. “The most important thing one woman can do for another is to illuminate and expand her sense of actual possibilities.”

4. “Life on the planet is born of woman.”

5. “If the imagination is to transcend and transform experience it has to question, to challenge, to conceive of alternatives, perhaps to the very life you are living at that moment.”

6. “Nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into opposite or to call experimentally by another name.”

7. “The most notable fact our culture imprints on women is the sense of our limits.”

8. “When a woman tells the truth, she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.”

9. “You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate; nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into opposite or to call experimentally by another name. For writing is renaming.”

10. “A thinking woman sleeps with monsters.”

11. “Lying is done with words and also with silence.”

12. “It’s exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful.”

13. “In order to live a fully human life we require not only control of our bodies (though control is a prerequisite); we must touch the unity and resonance of our physicality, our bond with the natural order, the corporeal grounds of our intelligence.”

14. “The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.”

15. “The moment of change is the only poem.”

16. “My head is full of whispers, which tomorrow will be silent.”

17. “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”

18. “Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events.”

19. “For now, poetry has the capacity – in its own ways and by its own means – to remind us of something we are forbidden to see.”

20. “To write as if your life depended on it; to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence–words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.”

21. “I am an instrument in the shape of a woman trying to translate pulsations into images for the relief of the body and the reconstruction of the mind.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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