Revision:A Form Of Evolution
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Revision is a type of evolution. For Adrienne Rich’s life and poems this is true. Three of her poems, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, “Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law”, and “Planetarium” were written at different spans of her life. Each poem is reflective of the era of its conception. The poems evolve as Rich’s education and culture change. Revision allows her to understand where she started, where she is now, and allows for a vision of the future. It is the evolution of a writer, her education, and culture.
The first poem I want to look at by Rich is “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” (1951). According to Rich, this is a poem where she intentionally uses language and a formal style to detach herself. Rich says that she distances herself by using a fictious character of another generation. She wrote in the conventional way of that time because she feared the response of the males in and outside her life; at the same time she speaks of Aunt Jennifer as a woman who conforms to society and thus to a man. “...I’m startled because beneath the conscious craft are glimpses of the split I even then experienced between the girl who wrote poems, who defined herself in writing poems, and the girl who was to define herself by her relationships with men” (p. 608).
Rich was still in college when she wrote this poem. Education like an institution oppressed her creativity. Paulo Freire’s banking concept was more than likely the teaching style. The student was seen as a bank awaiting deposits of information. One way, the professors’ way, was the right and only way. Formality and convention was the mainstay of writing presented to her. Without examples of other forms of writing Rich, wrote the best way she knew how.
In 1951, when this poem was written, it was probably inconceivable to think a woman should do anything other than raise children. Rich being a writer during this era was probably alrea...
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