February 14, 1980 How odd it is - life. I was returning a call in St.

Clement’s front office to an a ctress (2010 note: possibly Ruth Kinter) and she told me Muriel Rukesyer had die d on Wednesday. I was shocked, although I knew she had been sick for more than a year, two I guess. Rukeyser was scheduled to read in April at the Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s wi th the Spanish Civil War Veterans. This night, it’s 1 a.m., I was recalling how I had seen and heard her read only on ce and that was at St. Clement’s. It must’ve been the winter of ’77. Now I will probab ly be organizing a memorial reading for her at St. C’s. I would never have imagine d anything like that then. I was afraid to speak to Richard Spiegel then! [found er of the Poetry Festival] I called him this evening to tell him. How things cha nge. I wonder where this chain of events or intuitive movements on my part will lead me. I am glad that I did see her read. She was a wonderful, strong woman, a compassi onate human being who did something for oppressed, unfortunate and powerless peo ple: she spoke out for them. But she seemed so selfless, so non-righteous – not li ke some – many other activists. Maybe poets like her could change the world. Mentioning my thoughts about Rukeyser to another poet, she said, she “didn’t give a hoot” about how she had lived her life. You don’t think of what Emily Dickinson did with her life, what else she did with it, do you? All that’s left is the poetry. I said, actually, I think it’s a great loss that she did not have, live a fuller l ife. I suffer when I think of how lonely she must have been. What if her life ha d been different, with her ability! I think she would have been equal to the tas k, of a larger life, and left behind even greater work. Possible, isn’t it? It is true that artists express themselves through art, but they are human being s as well. The way Rukeyser lived her life, into the complexity of the human min d, into commitment to other people and to the value of human life, made the poet ry possible. Yes, it makes a difference to me how a person lives his or her life. If the qual ity of life were improved generation after generation, that would be worth a gre at deal. - from my diary, Mary Clark Among her books: Theory of Flight U.S. 1 A Turning Wind Soul and Body of John Brown Willard Gibbs Beast in View The Green Wave The Life of Poetry Selected Poems One Life Body of Waking Waterlily Fire The Orgy The Speed of Darkness Breaking Open The Gates

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