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Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of Poetry

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A career-spanning selection of the lucid, courageous, and boldly political prose of National Book Award winner Adrienne Rich.

Adrienne Rich was an award-winning poet, influential essayist, radical feminist, and major intellectual voice of her generation. Essential Essays gathers twenty-five of her most renowned essays into one volume, demonstrating the lasting brilliance of her voice, her prophetic vision, and her revolutionary views on social justice. Rich’s essays unite the political, personal, and poetical like no other.

Essential Essays is edited and includes an introduction by leading feminist scholar, literary critic, and poet Sandra M. Gilbert. Emphasizing Rich’s lifelong intellectual engagement, the essays selected here range from the 1960s to 2008. The volume contains one of Rich’s earliest essays,“When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision,” which discusses the need for female self-definition, along with excerpts from her ambitious, ground-breaking Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. As the New York Times wrote, Rich “brought the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse,” as evidenced in her 1980 essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.”

Also among these insightful and forward-thinking works are: “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity”; excerpts from What Is Found There, about the need to reexamine the literary canon; “Why I Refused the National Medal for the Arts”; “Poetry and the Forgotten Future”; and other writings that profoundly shaped second-wave feminism, each balanced by Rich’s signature blend of research, theory, and self-reflection.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 16, 2018 – This vibrant collection of prose pieces by the late poet Rich (1929 2012), edited by Gilbert (Reading and Writing Cancer), spans much of Rich's career, from 1964 to 2009, and encompasses her ideas on art, motherhood, and politics and the relationship between them. Topics also include the literary: Rich writes eloquently, for example, about Charlotte Bront , Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens. More political themes are sounded in 2001's "Why I Refused the National Medal for the Arts" and 1979's "What Does a Woman Need to Know?" which exhorts Smith graduates not to lose their "outsider's consciousness" in a patriarchal society. Throughout the collection, which traces Rich's evolution as artist and activist, Rich never wavers from her view that art is political, even when ostensibly apolitical, and that the personal is political. Some especially prescient selections articulate, in the 1980s and '90s, problems of racism, violence, and wealth inequality that have only recently more fully penetrated the national consciousness. Her strongest essays, such as 1997's "Arts of the Possible," pull together her critique of neoliberalism's "drive to disenfranchise and dehumanize" countered by art's capacity to embrace the fully human. Her essays, always provocative, clear, and packed with insights, are wise, refreshingly humane, and well worth reading.
Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of Poetry
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Essays
  • Published: Aug 28, 2018
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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