WHAT IS FOUND THERE

NOTEBOOKS ON POETRY AND POLITICS

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.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03565-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more