The collected works of Adrienne Rich, whose poetry is "distinguished by an unswerving progressive vision and a dazzling, empathic ferocity" (New York Times). A Finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Adrienne Rich was the singular voice of her generation and one of our most important American poets. She brought discussions of gender, race, and class to the forefront of poetical discourse, pushing formal boundaries and consistently examining both self and society. This collected volume traces the evolution of her poetry, from her earliest work, which was formally exact and decorous, to her later work, which became increasingly radical in both its free-verse form and feminist and political content. The entire body of her poetry is on display in this vast volume, including the National Book Award–winning Diving Into the Wreck and her prize-winning Atlas of the Difficult World. The Collected Poems of Adrienne Rich gathers and memorializes all of her boldly political, formally ambitious, thoughtful, and lucid work, the whole of which makes her one of the most prolific and influential poets of our time.
That Adrienne Rich is a not only a major American poet but an incisive, compelling prose writer is made clear once again by this collection, in which she continues to explore the social and political context of her life and art. Examining the connections between history and the imagination, ethics and action, she explores the possible meanings of being white, female, lesbian, Jewish, and a United States citizen, both at this particular time and through the lens of the past.
Too often the elderly suffer “death by invisibility” long before their physical demise, but what can we learn from creative individuals when they grow old? This book examines the work of two major contemporary women poets to show how they confront aging in a deliberate and constructive way. Sylvia Henneberg reveals how May Sarton and Adrienne Rich have critically evaluated and embraced their roles as elder poets and “creative crones”—and in doing so offer a powerful resistance to age discrimination. The Creative Crone highlights new dimensions in the works of both writers: one deeply engaged with aging but often overlooked by scholars, the other a prominent poet and feminist but not generally thought of in the context of aging. Henneberg shows how these writers offer radically different but richly complementary strategies for breaking the silence surrounding age. Rich provides an approach to aging so strongly intertwined with other political issues that its complexity may keep us from immediately identifying age as one of her chief concerns. On the other hand, Sarton's direct treatment of aging sensitizes us to its importance and helps us see its significance in such writings as Rich's. Meanwhile, Rich's efforts to politicize age create stimulating contexts for Sarton's work. Henneberg explores elements of these writers' individual poems that develop themes of aging, including imagery and symbol, the construction of a persona, and the uses of rhythms to reinforce the themes. She also includes analyses of their fiction and nonfiction works and draws ideas from age studies by scholars such as Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Kathleen Woodward, and Thomas Cole.The lasting impression of these poets is that any evaluation of their writings—and any serious study of personal or political identity —will benefit from including a critique of aging. Together, Sarton and Rich establish a literary symbiosis that suggests strategies for reassessing and radicalizing our notions about aging, senescence, and literature. This new perspective on their work shows that creative and crone are far from mutually exclusive; considered in tandem, they renew the discourse on late-life creativity.
"An impressive new volume. . . . Rich's admirers will recognize the complex symbiosis between the activist and the maker of new language, each propelling, describing, provoking the other's words."—Publishers Weekly "Look: with all my fear I'm here with you, trying what it means, to stand fast; what it means to move." In these astonishing new poems, Adrienne Rich dares to look and to extend her poetic language as witness to the treasures—the midnight salvage—we rescue from fear and fragmentation. Rich's work has long challenged social plausibilities built on violence and demoralizing power. In Midnight Salvage, she continues her explorations at the end of the century, trying, as she has said, "to face the terrible with hope, in language as complex as necessary, as communicative as possible—a poetics which can work as antidote to complacency, self-involvement, and despair. I have wanted to assume a theater of voices rather than the restricted I. To write for both readers I know exist and those I can only imagine, finding their own salvaged beauty as I have found mine." "In her vision of warning and her celebration of life, Adrienne Rich is the Blake of American letters."—Nadine Gordimer
In the traditional of great literary manifestos, Norton is proud to present this powerful work by Adrienne Rich. With passion, critical questioning, and humor, Adrienne Rich suggests how poetry has actually been lived in the world, past and present. In this essay, which was the basis for her speech upon accepting the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, she ranges among themes including poetry's disparagement as "either immoral or unprofitable," the politics of translation, how poetry enters into extreme situations, different poetries as conversations across place and time. In its openness to many voices, Poetry and Commitment offers a perspective on poetry in an ever more divided and violent world. "I hope never to idealize poetry—it has suffered enough from that. Poetry is not a healing lotion, an emotional massage, a kind of linguistic aromatherapy. Neither is it a blueprint, nor an instruction manual, nor a billboard."
In her seventh volume of poetry, Adrienne Rich searches to reclaim—to discover—what has been forgotten, lost, or unexplored. "I came to explore the wreck. / The words are purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail." These provocative poems move with the power of Rich's distinctive voice.
Although best known as a poet, Adrienne Rich is a versatile critic and a gifted writer of nonfiction and critical theory. One of America's most outspoken literary figures, her courage in speaking out against injustice in the United States and worldwide has earned her the kind of international political following few American poets enjoy. This book is a much-needed comprehensive study of her life and career. It covers the full progression of her poetry from the beginning through her most recent work. In doing so, it clarifies her entire poetic output and illuminates her concepts of nation, the female body, power, and women's sexuality.
"Adrienne Rich's new prose collection could have been titled The Essential Rich."—Women's Review of Books These essays trace a distinguished writer's engagement with her time, her arguments with herself and others. "I am a poet who knows the social power of poetry, a United States citizen who knows herself irrevocably tangled in her society's hopes, arrogance, and despair," Adrienne Rich writes. The essays in Arts of the Possible search for possibilities beyond a compromised, degraded system, seeking to imagine something else. They call on the fluidity of the imagination, from poetic vision to social justice, from the badlands of political demoralization to an art that might wound, that may open scars when engaged in its work, but will finally suture and not tear apart. This volume collects Rich's essays from the last decade of the twentieth century, including four earlier essays, as well as several conversations that go further than the usual interview. Also included is her essay explaining her reasons for declining the National Medal for the Arts. "The work is inspired and inspiring."—Alicia Ostriker "[S]o clear and clean and thorough. I learn from her again and again."—Grace Paley