Names and Memorialization

Marilyn Hacker. "Tectonic Shifts Alicia Ostriker's The Crack in Everything" collected in Unauthorized Voices.

One section of "The Mastectomy Poems" has an epigraph — referring to "ordinary women" — from a poem by Lucille Clifton. Not at all parenthetically, Clifton too was treated for breast cancer, a few years after Ostriker. Some, only some, of the other contemporary American women writers who are living with, or who have succumbed to breast cancer are, in no particular order: Pat Parker, Audre Lorde, Susan Sontag, Maxine Kumin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Moffett, Penelope Austin, Edith Konecky, Hilda Raz, Patricia Goedicke, June Jordan, Grace Paley, myself: black, white, Jewish; fat, thin, and middling; lesbian, straight (and middling); childless and multiparous — to borrow the title of a poem by Melvin Dixon about friends lost to AIDS, "And These Are Just a Few."
I am after all these years still amazed at the simple power of recitation. Each name an individual and together more than a generation.

And so for day 870