Sunday, March 06, 2011


Adrienne Rich interview online

From an interview with poet Adrienne Rich, posted March 2, 2011 in the website of the Paris Review, in which she discusses in particular her most recent book of poems, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve (published this year by W. W. Norton):

"Our ears, like it or not, take in so much in a day. Maybe some North American ears have trouble with poetry because of the noise from an aggressively voices ruling ethos--its terminology of war, success, national security, winning and losing, ownership, merchandising, canned information, canned laughter. Poetry can be indirect, it can be colloquial, it can be abrupt or angry, but it's not that vacuous noise; it wants to unseat that kind of language, play other kinds of sound tracks."

I've read Tonight No Poetry Will Serve, and really liked it.

The full interview is here.

Thanks to Al Markowitz, host of the Blue Collar Holler blog (of which I'm also a blog member), where I found the link to the interview.

do you have a sense about where the latest book fits in? is it as good as ATLAS, for example?
Philip, I guess I'd say that Tonight No Poetry Will Serve is one of Rich's more interior books of poems in a while. Or maybe subterranean is a better word -- I felt a lot going on beneath the surface in the poems.

As far as whether it's as good as Atlas of the Difficult World or any of her other books, I don't know if I know how to make that kind of comparison.

I've certainly been aware of how Rich's poems have evolved over the years, gradually--it seems to me--paring down closer and closer to the bone over time. But I've also felt a steady consistency in the poems, a recognizable voice (though "voice" is maybe too overused a word in talking about poetry these days).

Rich herself says on the book jacket, "I believe almost everything I know, have come to understand, is in this book."
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