Summary of “How Relationships Refine Our Truths: Adrienne Rich on the Dignity of Love”

From her stirring poetry to her timeless wisdom on love, loss, and creativity, beloved poet and feminist Adrienne Rich endures as one of the most celebrated poets of the twentieth century, a remarkable woman of equal parts literary flair and political conviction.
In a monumental manifestation of both, when Rich was awarded prestigious National Medal of Arts in 1997, the highest honor bestowed upon an individual artist on behalf of the people of the United States, she famously became the first and only person yet to decline the honor in a protest against the monopoly of power and the government’s proposed plan to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
Rich was also a masterful writer of prose at the intersection of the philosophical, the political, and the deeply personal.
An honorable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “Love” – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
How beautifully this lends itself to paraphrasing Rich’s memorable words from two decades later – “I don’t think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope.” – to “I don’t think we can separate love from overall human dignity and hope.”
Complement it with Rich on what “Truth” really means and her spectacular commencement address on claiming an education.

The orginal article.