“Rich’s lyrics are powerful and mournful, drenched in memory.” —San Francisco Chronicle
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Rich, who won the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1951 and who has published more than 25 books since, continues, in this unsparing collection, to make inquiries into real injustice and fables of its vanquishment: "loose floorboards quitting in haste we pried/ up to secrete the rash imagination/ of a time to come." The penchant that this great American poet has for dating her books and her individual poems feels less like an attempt to situate them within history than a means to shock the self, and readers, into recognizing what has passed, and is passing: "smolder's legacy on a boulder traced." Rich's stark, intimate voice seems to speak for a life lived at once at the margins and at the center. Some poems linger in diaristic dailiness ("My neighbor moving/ in a doorframe moment's/ reach of her hand"); others light out for the territory where possibilities are extinguished, and born: "beyond remorse, disillusion, fear of death// or life/ rage/ for order, rage for destruction// beyond this love which stirs/ the air every time she walks into the room."