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Midnight Salvage: Poems, 1995-98 Paperback – 23 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (23 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393319849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393319842
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.1 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,148,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"...Rich's poems have always read like genuine despatches from the front line of political disaffection. It is this lived-in conviction that gives the work its integrity as a whole, making Midnight Salvage worth reading as a late stage in Adrienne Rich's remarkable personal, political and poetic experiment." -- Caitriona O'Reilly, The Irish Times

"These are poems which are ruthless in retrospect, generous in memory and self-critique." -- Jacqueline Rose, London Review of Books

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I love reading this book 26 Oct 1999
By KrF (hipsterdoofus1@yahoo.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Adrienne Rich is one of my favorite poets ever. Everytime I read a new poem, or book by ACR, I learn something new. I take whatever she writes with the utmost seriousness because I know that she is a writer that takes her craft seriously. Rich combines the usual separate domains of poetry and philosophy. Is it "poetic philosophy" or "philosophical poetry"? I go with the latter; her work has the aesthetic beauty of a Wallace Stevens with the philosophical rigor of a writer utterly aware of her place and time. She is a true American writer, that refuses to use the "canonical" American writers only; she also uses Miles Davis, Muriel Rukesyer, John Coltrane and Julia de Burgos as her guides. This book is very good.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Rising From the Wreck" 29 July 2001
By Judy Lightfoot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Adrienne Rich's twenty-second book arrives in her seventieth year on the planet and the fiftieth year of a distinguished literary career. To scan the list of publications prefacing her seventeenth collection of poems is to feel small jolts of recognition - one title recalling the moment when your sense of what it meant to be a daughter, wife, mother, self, or mind abruptly veered into dangerous new territory, and another evoking a whole decade of the American century. How bracing her tenacity has been, and how courageous her changes.
In 1951, at the age of twenty-two, Rich received the coveted Yale Younger Poets award for poems W. H. Auden patted on the back because they "are neatly and modestly dressed, speak quietly but do not mumble, [and] respect their elders." Twelve years later her "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law" shocked readers with its broken prosodies and epiphanies of women's experience in a sexist society. "Diving Into the Wreck" (1973), "The Dream of a Common Language" (1978), "A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far" (1981), "Your Native Land, Your Life" (1993), and "The Dark Fields of the Republic" (1995) have established Rich as an activist writer of impressive reach and power. Despite crippling rheumatoid arthritis and looming despair at the degradations of language and the sociopolitical scene at the millennium, she's still here. Still talking.
And still making waves: two years ago Rich refused the President's prestigious National Medal for the Arts because of what she called, in a speech at the University of Massachusetts, the fracturing of our social contract by "the omnivorously acquisitive few" who preside over "a dwindling middle class and a multiplying number of ill-served, throwaway citizens and workers." While many readers honor Rich's public stance against injustice, some deplore the entrance of such themes into her poetry, arguing that art must transcend the political to be universal and enduring.
In Rich's case, what transcends politics is the voice at the center of her work: an ethical consciousness in the act of resolutely finding a way through terrible difficulties. Refusing to be distracted, she thinks and feels along the labyrinth, fully aware that whatever waits around the bend - barricade, abyss, torturer's knife, knowledge - can kill the spirit. The thing can't be foreseen or forestalled, either, without compromising the whole endeavor. Yet "Look: with all my fear I'm here with you, trying what it / means, to stand fast; what it means to move."
"Midnight Salvage" is muted and elliptical because the experiences of individuals and the forces impinging on them have become harder to pinpoint. They're like water to a fish trying to identify the medium that presses evenly on all sides and supplies all sustenance. The home we live and breathe in is inchoately oppressive - a supersaturated marketplace where events, ideas, rights, governments, peoples, selves, health, oceans, the air, and the words that might tell them true are traded like consumables. Can we know the water we swim in? Rich writes less to galvanize or muster than to awaken.
So the poems read like bulletins from an elusive front, most of them linked in loose bluesy sequences, and punctuated by gaps or paired colons reminiscent of empty boxes - for the disappeared, perhaps, for all the solid assurances that have melted into air. Brilliant glimpses remind us why we want to be awake and alive, like the osprey rising over foggy Tomales Bay and its young "in the windy nest / creaking there in their hunger," and like the older woman's amazed, half-protective-half-exultant memory of her adolescent self:
"What a girl I was then what a body / ready for breaking / open like a lobster / what a little provincial village � / what a book I made myself / what a quicksilver study � / What a girl pelican-skimming over fear what a mica lump splitting / into tiny sharp-edged mirrors through which / the sun's eclipse could seem normal � / eager to sink / to be found / what a mass of swimmy legs"
When "You cannot eat an egg / You don't know where it's been," still, "Unstupefied not unhappy / we braise wild greens and garlic / feed the feral cats / and when the fog's irregular documents break open / scan its fissures for young stars."
One or two catalogs seem facile, a few formal repetitions verge on sentimentality ("I'll find you � I find you"; "I would look long � long I'd look"), but these are cavils. An original voice and a scrupulously precise, penetrating mind are still on the urgent prowl, "seizing the light / of creation / giving it back to its creatures // headed under the earth."
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not Rich at her best, and that means pretty mediocre 1 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Each one of the commercially prepared reviews above contains more verbal invention than what you will find in this book. I really don't see why Auden is continually brought up, since he gave Rich the very faintest praise ever accorded to any writer at any time in his/herstory('respects her elders', etc.) This book has Rich again talking about very personal matters, such as her stint at Stanford. There is no question that she has lost her unusual ability to make socially important observations sting, but this is the soupiest collection from her yet. I'm really disappointed, and would like to return this book if I could. There are, of course, compelling lesbian poets out there, and it is a shame the way Rich now preempts nearly all of them. Where it says here "Readers also bought books by....", you might take a look at Boland, an interesting Irish poet, not so tired as Rich appears to be.
a response 4 Mar 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is not a review, but a response to one. To the reviewer who called this book "mediocre" I want to say thanks, not for damning this writer but for being opinionated. I find too many reviwers are blandly admiring in their opinions (as I believe the case is with the first customer's review of this book). And this person also takes care to praise Rich when it is deserved. I have long been intrigued by Rich, her political stance (which seems to supplant her personality and her poetry) and the way it has made her poems. I read this aforementioned review to get an idea of how good or bad the book may be, and to get an idea of how Rich is perceived. I got my answer.
vague but worth it 12 April 2007
By S. Reyes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As much as some reviewers on here denounce Rich as elitist and too heady (when they themselves seem much nearer that criticism than does Rich), she is an amazing crafter of language. Yah, she is vague, and yah she is almost impossible to follow sometimes, but enjoy it. You play with them, throw em around in your head and figure out the meanings. Poems aren't always meant to be straightforward (though some would argue with that) and there's a pleasure in that. These are puzzles, and if you don't have the patience for puzzles then you need to reconsider buying this book.
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