Synopses & Reviews
Adrienne Rich's Later Poems Selected and New: 1971-2012
displays the strong trajectory of the work of one of the most distinguished artists of American letters. After her death in March 2012, Rich left behind a manuscript of mature work that speaks for her concern with a poetics of relation along with a passionate attention to craft.
In addition to her selections from twelve volumes of published work, Later Poems Selected and New contains ten powerful new poems. Among these, "From Strata" is a kind of archaeology of the present day; "Itinerary" searches for an "indefinite future" in a menaced landscape; "For the Young Anarchists" offers a trope of skilled labor for political action; and the haunting voice of the "Teethsucking Bird" reminds us of what we have been told to forget.
These and other poems look back into history and forward into the future while engaging with contemporary moments. Rich's singular command of language continues to the end.
"This big and important selection begins at the point where Rich (who died in March 2012) became a national political figure: Diving into the Wreck (1973), with its often-quoted title poem, became a must-read for 1970s feminists, while The Dream of a Common Language (1977), with its central sequence 'Twenty-One Love Poems,' set a new standard for writing on love between women. The long phrases of 'Yom Kippur 1984' look back at her Jewish heritage, showing how a writer's solitude interacts with an activist's solidarity; An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991) found phrases harsh and mild for American landscapes, especially her adoptive home in California, where the 'light of outrage is the light of history,/ springing upon us when we're least prepared.' Rich could depict calls to action and prophetic near-despair, but her white spaces and broken-up lines, recurring symbols (solitary mammals, lost boats, telescopes) and isolated terms could also portray an inner life as complex as it was committed. Those portrayals resound anew through the 10 new poems, among them an inspiring address 'For the Young Anarchists' and the last of her many responses to Wallace Stevens. 'What's concrete for me: from there I cast out further,' she wrote; this inspiring retrospective shows just how much she could take in." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The final volume of poems assembled by America's most powerful and distinctive voice.
About 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.