Ta-Nehisi Coates is giving Adrienne Rich another chance. Funny to me, and foreign, this notion of having to give Adrienne Rich another chance. (Writes the suburban white chick). Adrienne Rich shaped words into language, turned language into power, opened the space-time continuum and shoved this adolescent girl right on through. On the far side of adolescence now by a decade and then some, re-reading snippets from The Fact of a Doorframe still sends shivers up my spine.
'I am composing on the typewriter late at night, thinking of today. How well we all spoke. A language is a map of our failures. Frederick Douglass wrote an English purer than Milton's. People suffer highly in poverty. There are methods but we do not use them. Joan, who could not read, spoke some peasant form of French. Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor's language.
(from The Burning of Paper Instead of Children, 1968)