POEMS: Selected and New, 1950-1974 by Adrienne Rich
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POEMS: Selected and New, 1950-1974

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This selection edited from seven previous volumes of poetry (plus eight uncollected and eleven new poems) marks the first plateau of great achievement for feminist Adrienne Rich, who split the NBA poetry prize with Allen Ginsberg in 1974. She's both prolific and ambitious -- always good and getting better all the time. Her first book was published in 1951, the year she graduated from college, and The Diamond Cutters followed in 1955. But Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law was a radical departure from her early ""angelic fabrications"" with their rhetorical formalism and conventional metrics -- those tentative formulations of marriage as inevitability or as haven, coupled with a young woman's eager disillusion with received ideals. Her subsequent poetry has been a process from the awareness of woman's drudgery and sisterhood to the arena of total political protest. Once having achieved a certain artistic confidence and mastery, she suddenly stumbled over the limits of ""the oppressor's language."" These poems from the activist '60's are exciting, vigorous, something altogether new -- the beginning of an inspired hate that by the '70's (in Diving into the Wreck) is purified into ""The Phenomenology of Anger."" Her newest poems are more lucid visions, bolder blood-lettings, knife-clean products of experience and courage and a terrific will to rethink the world in order to change it. For intellect and originality, she's unmatched. Like no other poet, she grapples complexity head-on and generates discovery.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1975
Publisher: Norton