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Poetry and Commitment by Adrienne Rich

Poetry and Commitment

by Adrienne Rich

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Adrienne Rich is one of my favorite poets, and was one of the first whose writing helped me understand how poetry could be built to make a distinct and socially engaged difference in the world. Without exception, I find such power in her collections that I read them more than once, and share them with my students and read them all over again.

And yet, I have to admit, I was disappointed by this short work. It was far more academic than I would have expected, and at times it barely seemed to have been written by a poet so much as a critic. Mark Doty's Afterword, for me, was actually more striking than many of the short chapters in the work, as much as I love Rich's poetry.

So, would I recommend it? Honestly, I'm not sure that I could, though I'd certainly recommend that any writer or reader search out her poetry. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Sep 1, 2016 |
Picked this up in City Lights over the weekend and read it on the plane home today. This passage stuck with me:"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. There is no universal Poetry anyway, only poetries and poetics, and the streaming, intertwining histories to which they belong." ( )
  MatthewHittinger | Dec 29, 2008 |
Feminist, theorist, critic, poet--Adrienne Rich has had one of the most distinguished careers of any American writer. Her commitment to both poetry and politics gives her the unique position to write this essay. Rich limns poetry’s relevance in a world that seems more bent on genocide and war all the time. So what’s the role of the poet in a world that also contains Iraq, Palestine, Darfur--not to mention the violence in American cities and against women and children throughout the world? To produce more poetry, says Rich. It gives us the capacity to see the world clearly, bear witness and bring about change. There is no poetry without commitment. If that concept is hard to understand, think of bacon and eggs. The hen is involved; the hog is committed. May we all be hogs for poetry.
(From the Sacramento News & Review, 5/3/07, http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/Content?oid=318730) ( )
  KelMunger | May 13, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393331032, Paperback)

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."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:52 -0400)

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