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I felt like more Adrienne Rich after seeing her again in the anthology I read the other day.

These poems were written between 2000 and 2004, which is important, because they are world-historical poems, they are trying to convey a sense of the time and the politics of it and the way the poet relates to the politics. This is a form of poetry that is very hit-or-miss for me, and a fair quantity of this book is miss, though the title poem is perfectly devastating and every so often she'll come out with a few lines that ring like a struck bell:

If some long unborn friend
looks at photos in pity,
we say, sure we were happy,
but it was not in the wind

which matches very well what I remember of those years living in this country, yes. In general, though, I think this is a book for people who already know the poet better than I do, because if one already knows the poet then her relation to the world-historical is something that sheds new light on the world-historical, whereas if one does not, one finds oneself trying to use the world-historical to shed light on the poet, and there isn't enough here for that, it doesn't work. Possibly she is one of those poets who ought to be read chronologically, or possibly this is simply not a collection I like, though I tend to like her stuff very much when I have met it elsewhere. Or maybe it is that I am sick right now and inclined not to like things. I don't know. Well-crafted, well-thought, if this is your genre of poetry this is the sort of thing you will like, and the title poem did make the book worth reading.

I should go hunt up some Carolyn Kizer.


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March 2017

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