PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

This review is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

THE UNDEFEATED ADRIENNE RICH, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve. Poems, 2007-2010 (New York and London: W.W. Norton) $24.95

In a letter to PNR 200, Marilyn Hacker criticised the limitations of the little essay or label that I wrote to accompany the photographic portrait by Joan Biren ('JEB') of Adrienne Rich. Hacker thought my label reductionist, focusing as it did on Rich's monumental achievement during the 1950s of creating a new, feminist poetics rather than on the totality of her career, including her support of Palestinian rights. The point of these portrait essays, given space limitations, is to pick out a major chord with which to characterise a writer's life; an encyclopaedic over-view is, of course, impossible. Given my interest in language - both visual and verbal - and resistance, an emphasis on the way that Rich wrote her way out of poetry's patriarchal language at mid-century seemed the point to highlight. (This emphasis also 'fitted' the image and biographical moment presented by 'JEB' in her photograph.) That this was, in my estimation and I believe in Rich's own, the key moment in her development as a writer is not to deny the richness (sorry!) of her subsequent work. There is a remembrance of this moment in Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: 'Pain taught her the language / root of radical // she walked on knives to gain a voice / fished the lake of lost // messages gulping up / from far below and long ago'. From that pain and over a career of now almost sixty years, Rich has never stopped developing and evolving as a ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image