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What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics

What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics

Paperback

By (author) Adrienne Rich

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  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 206mm x 28mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 17 October 2003
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0393312461
  • ISBN 13: 9780393312461
  • Edition statement: revised reprint
  • Sales rank: 831,566

Product description

The "impulse to enter, with other humans, through language, into the order and disorder of the world, is poetic at its root as surely as it is political at its root, " writes Adrienne Rich at the beginning of her powerful new prose work. What Is Found There is Rich's response to her impulse as a poet to know poetry fully, to plumb and scale and inhabit it; it is also, profoundly, Rich's attempt to bring poetry into the lives of many kinds of people - out of the academy, away from the literary magazines. In a voice that is generous, bold, and personal, Rich uses the poet's materials - journals and letters, dreams, memories, and close reading of the work of many poets - to reflect on poetry and politics, to consider how they enter and impinge on an American life, and what it means to be a citizen of a fragmented country, part of a people turned inward for safety. Rich acknowledges the cost of this turning: "We have rarely, if ever, known what it is to tremble with fear, to lament, to rage, to praise, to solemnize, to say We have done this, to our sorrow; to say Enough, to say We will, to say We will not. To lay claim to poetry." But she acknowledges hope as well. Speaking to poets, to readers of poetry, to all of us who imagine and desire a humane civil life, Rich lays claim to poetry as an instrument of change, and offers up its possibilities: "I see the life of North American poetry at the end of the century as a pulsing, racing convergence of tributaries - regional, ethnic, racial, social, sexual - that, rising from lost or long-blocked springs, intersect and infuse each other while reaching back to the strengths of their origins."

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Review quote

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. --June Jordan"

Editorial reviews

Award-winning poet Rich offers a new volume of collected essays (Blood, Bread, and Poetry, 1986, etc.) that feature her distinct blend of feminist polemics and sharp-sighted analysis of the American condition, spiced with verses from a range of kindred spirits. Poetry is as necessary as food, shelter, education, and other human basics, Rich asserts, exploring the relationship between a poet's social responsibility and the world of experience that provides poetry's raw material. The notion of artist-activists remains primary even as Rich acknowledges that poetry, with limited "value" in a market economy as entrenched as ours, has been effectively marginalized. The struggle for political power through poetic expression is an engagement on many fronts, as minority voices speak out along with oppressed women, the poor along with the gay community. Quoting Muriel Rukeyser, June Jordan, and others to emphasize that poetry can convey valuable messages of social redemption, Rich also draws on sources from Trotsky to Wallace Stevens to illustrate her own educational path. Her understanding that racism and sexism are integral parts of the social landscape wasn't attained overnight, and the painful process of emergence from an early life of privileged narrowness into a fuller awareness is recounted at length. The transformative, conjuring power of poetry is reaffirmed throughout, with its potential impact enhanced as it finds its rightful place in the cultural mainstream. Challenging and rewarding as always, although at times the essays serve as little more than venues for the poetry and words of others. In giving access to lesser-known but like-minded writers, Rich has reduced her own presence - a disappointing trade-off. (Kirkus Reviews)