Subscribe to Our Newsletter





Follow LeftTurn:

Special Offer from PM Press

Now more than ever there is a vital need for radical ideas. In the four years since its founding - and on a mere shoestring - PM Press has risen to the formidable challenge of publishing and distributing knowledge and entertainment for the struggles ahead. With over 200 releases to date, they have published an impressive and stimulating array of literature, art, music, politics, and culture.

PM Press is offering readers of Left Turn a 10% discount on every purchase. In addition, they'll donate 10% of each purchase back to Left Turn to support the crucial voices of independent journalism. Simply enter the coupon code: Left Turn when shopping online or mention it when ordering by phone or email.

Click here for their online catalog.

Rachel's Story

By: 
Lauren Anzal
Date Published: 
,

LET ME STAND ALONE: THE JOURNALS OF RACHEL CORRIE

BY RACHEL CORRIE

W.W. Norton & Company, 2008

Despite the title of a new collection of her writings, Rachel Corrie did not stand alone. The 23-year-old poet from Olympia, Washington, stood with Palestinian refugees struggling to survive Israel’s insidious military occupation of the Gaza Strip. She stood with seven other people of conscience who had traveled to Gaza from the US and the UK to support and call the world’s attention to the courageous acts of Palestinian nonviolent resistance taking place there daily. Rachel stands eternally among the countless others before and since who have been killed while daring to live with dignity in a warzone.

Rachel Corrie died on March 16, 2003, after being run over by an armored Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer operated by a member of the Israel Defense Forces. She was trying to stop Israel from demolishing the home of a Palestinian family, the Nasrallahs. Many are familiar with the story of her death, and Rachel’s father, Craig Corrie, gives some context in his introduction to Let Me Stand Alone. Rachel’s letters home from the Gazan city of Rafah describing the work she was doing with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the horror she witnessed of Palestinian homes and water wells destroyed by the Israeli military have been widely circulated and published. In fact, the publication of her emails in the British newspaper The Guardian inspired the production of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie, which, when banned in New York, Miami and Toronto, prompted Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, to ask, “Why are people so afraid of Rachel’s words?” The Rachel’s Words initiative was borne of efforts to share Rachel’s eloquent and honest message with the largest audience possible.

Let Me Stand Alone is a continuation of that effort and more. The contents of the book span Rachel’s life, not simply the seven momentous weeks that she spent in Palestine. The 256-page book includes samples of Rachel’s poetry, writing, and drawings over the course of 14 years and tracks her journey through childhood and adolescence and into young adulthood. More saliently, the book reveals Rachel’s rousing social conscience and her development as an activist and a human rights advocate, and ultimately an ISM volunteer in Rafah.

Profound humanity

Let Me Stand Alone is the culmination of the Corrie family’s desire to fulfill Rachel’s goal of becoming a published author and is the family’s means of sharing with the world their beloved daughter and sister’s insight, compassion, and humor. These traits of Rachel’s gleam are apparent from each page, whether she is writing about her weaknesses (“I hide my vulnerabilities by dancing around them in the water and changing my shape so that I am never one thing for very long”), her passions (“There, in the amphitheater of light created by her doorway, I kissed once lightly his half-laughing lips against the hush-sift of the surf”) or her privilege (“White-skin privilege is the giant iceberg looming beneath the tip that is security checks at the airport”). The themes Rachel explores are varied, but her words are almost always poetic. The title of the book, for example, comes from a piece featured at the start of the collection that Rachel wrote about her dawning sense of self and her place in the world: “Let me stand alone at the edge of the earth and look at it honestly, alone.”

Rachel’s writings are manifestations of her honesty with herself and the people in her life. She was clearly very self-aware and intuitive from an early age, as evidenced by the speech she gave as a fifth-grader at a press conference on world hunger, by her poignant childhood poem about taking care not to crush the flowers beneath her feet while walking through the woods, by her haunting poem about homelessness, written when she was just 11, and by so many more thoughtful examples contained in this collection.

Having lived all of her life in one city in the Pacific Northwest, Rachel was also keenly interested in place, and her writing explores the meaning of place in people’s lives. It seems to follow, then, that Rachel was eventually drawn to delve further into the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and to travel to the Gaza Strip, where place holds supreme meaning and the struggle for a peaceful, autonomous homeland has gone decades unrequited.

Rachel Corrie has been deified by some and demonized by others. She has been called a martyr, a terrorist, and a fool. This collection of writings reveals her to be neither a selfless saint nor a delusional demagogue. In her own words, Rachel reveals that she was not naïve, misled, or ill-informed. She was hopeful, but she was also practical, and she was earnest. She was a human being and because of her profound humanity, she stands apart but not alone.