What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics


America's enduring poet of conscience reflects on the proven and potential role of poetry in contemporary politics and life.
Through journals, letters, dreams, and close readings of the work of many poets, Adrienne Rich reflects on how poetry and politics enter and impinge on American life. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the author as well as her post-9/11 "Six Meditations in Place of a ...

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America's enduring poet of conscience reflects on the proven and potential role of poetry in contemporary politics and life.
Through journals, letters, dreams, and close readings of the work of many poets, Adrienne Rich reflects on how poetry and politics enter and impinge on American life. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the author as well as her post-9/11 "Six Meditations in Place of a Lecture."

One of our greatest living poets offers journals, letters, dreams, memories, and poems that reflect on how poetry and politics enter and influence American life. "Evocative and moving."

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Editorial Reviews

June Jordan
“The clear-eyed depth and the visionary stretch of these notes bespeak an irresistible, prophetic intelligence and a huge heart wrestling with the transformative power of poetry up against the needs of an emerging new world.”
New York Times Book Review
“Simultaneously poetry anthology, exercise in reflection, social and cultural diagnosis, poet's creed...this is a book of wisdom...more resonant with each rereading.”
Boston Globe
“Essential reading for writers and readers of poetry and for anyone interested in the current debates on art and politics...and the spiritual and moral power of literature.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
`` You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it. '' Rich ( An Atlas of the Difficult World ) seems to do as she says, and that's partly why her work is so powerful. This collection of her essays, notebook excerpts and letters shares the poet's thinking and her passion. Rich writes not only about poetry as a literary entity but about our need for it as a force for personal truth and political action. She is not prescriptive. Instead, she urges democracy in poetry, a broadening of possibilities, and suggests poetry--``a social art''--as a means of larger change, ``pulling us toward each other.'' The pieces here do some of that pulling. Rich discusses the place of poetry in shopping malls; the livelihoods of poets; their education; Muriel Rukeyser as a neglected master; Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson as progenitors and ``extremists'' of American poetry; and the influence of Wallace Stevens on her own work. But regardless of topic, Rich continually affirms poetry as a way of reawakening ``desire and need'' long suppressed or forgotten by many. Her conviction also reawakens, offering hope toughened by experience. (Oct.)
Library Journal
As timely and insightful now as it was when published after the first Gulf conflict, this reprint of the 1993 original includes an excellent new introduction titled "Jacob and the Angel" and a post-9/11 piece called "Six Meditations in Place of a Lecture." Through her journals, letters, and reflections on the work of other poets, Rich explores the relationship between poetry and politics, the private and the public. How do we make meaning in a world filled with endless distraction and noise, where every fear and desire is co-opted before it has been fully realized? Faced with this clamor, how are we to act as rational beings capable of making sound decisions and thus as responsible citizens? Poems are not recipes for sanity, argues Rich, but rather artifacts born of a process that allows us to "engage with states that themselves would deprive us of languages and reduce us to passive sufferers"-heartbreak, loss, and great physical pain. Revisiting poems can allow the reader to reengage with these states, make sense of them, and carry that sense to the public realm. A timely choice for academic and public libraries.-Felicity D. Walsh, Southern Polytechnic State Univ., Marietta, GA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393312461
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/6/2003
  • Edition description: Expanded Edition
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 815,825
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Jacob and the angel (2003)
Preface (1993)
I Woman and bird 3
II Voices from the air 9
III "What would we create?" 14
IV Dearest Arturo 23
V "Those two shelves, down there" 29
VI As if your life depended on it 33
VII The space for poetry 35
VIII How does a poet put bread on the table? 41
IX The muralist 44
X The hermit's scream 55
XI A leak in history 73
XII Someone is writing a poem 84
XIII Beginners 91
XIV The real, not the calendar, twenty-first century 102
XV "A clearing in the imagination" 107
XVI What is an American life? 118
XVII "Moment of Proof" 124
XVIII "History stops for no one" 128
XIX The transgressor mother 145
XX A communal poetry 164
XXI The distance between language and violence 181
XXII Not how to write poetry, but wherefore 190
XXIII "Rotted names" 197
XXIV A poet's education 206
XXV To invent what we desire 214
XXVI Format and form 217
XXVII Tourism and promised lands 228
XXVIII What if? 235
XXIX Six meditations in place of a lecture 251
Notes 275
Acknowledgments 297
Permissions Acknowledgments 299
Index 307
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