Rich, who won the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1951 and who has published more than 25 books since, continues, in this unsparing collection, to make inquiries into real injustice and fables of its vanquishment: "loose floorboards quitting in haste we pried/ up to secrete the rash imagination/ of a time to come." The penchant that this great American poet has for dating her books and her individual poems feels less like an attempt to situate them within history than a means to shock the self, and readers, into recognizing what has passed, and is passing: "smolder's legacy on a boulder traced." Rich's stark, intimate voice seems to speak for a life lived at once at the margins and at the center. Some poems linger in diaristic dailiness ("My neighbor moving/ in a doorframe moment's/ reach of her hand"); others light out for the territory where possibilities are extinguished, and born: "beyond remorse, disillusion, fear of death// or life/ rage/ for order, rage for destruction//-beyond this love which stirs/ the air every time she walks into the room." (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
“Rich’s lyrics are powerful and mournful, drenched in memory.” San Francisco Chronicle
Two years seems a short amount of time for a poetry collection to span, but for a writer as prolific as Rich, it is ample. Rich won the Yale Award for Younger Poets in 1951 and has not slowed down since. Her 1974-77 collection, The Dream of a Common Language, is an American poetry classic. Her verse burns with enough intensity and focus to make awkward labels like "free verse," "the personal is political," and "confessional poetry" redemptive compliments. This new experimental collection shows a bold, evocative imagist at work, and, as with blues singers, Rich's voice has only improved with age and remains incandescent and compelling. Take, for example, her asking amid a war poem, "is this how far we have come/ to make love easy?" or referring to universities as "the gaunt architecture of cheap solutions." This is not the only Rich book to have in your collection, but for those already invested, it makes a fine addition.
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Meet the Author
Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed, and widely taught, Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) was for decades among the most influential writers of the feminist movement and one of the best-known American public intellectuals. She wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose. Her constellation of honors includes a National Book Award for poetry for Tonight, No Poetry Will Serve, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1994, and a National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck. That volume, published in 1973, is considered her masterwork. Ms. Rich’s other volumes of poetry include The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose includes the essay collections On Lies, Secrets, and Silence; Blood, Bread, and Poetry; an influential essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” and the nonfiction book Of Woman Born, which examines the institution of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. In 2006, Rich was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. In 2010, she was honored with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award.
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I enjoyed the literal as well as the implied relationships. I think the entertainment was worth the price.