What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics

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W.W. Norton, 2003 - Literary Collections - 321 pages
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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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About the author (2003)

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 two National Book Awards, a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, and a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. Ms. Rich's 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 2010, she was honored with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award.

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