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Tonight No Poetry Will Serve

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  344 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews

In the intimate address of "Axel Avákar," the black humor of "Quarto," and the underground journey of "Powers of Recuperation," compressed lyrics flash among larger scenarios where images, dialogues, blues, and song spiral into political visions. Adrienne Rich has said, "I believe almost everything I know, have come to understand, is somewhere in this book."

from "Ballade o

...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published January 17th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Terri Jacobson
Jan 15, 2013 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
An exceptional book of poetry. Clear, crisp, haunting images. Wildly imaginative and deeply thoughtful. A book I'll go back to again.
catechism
Dec 08, 2015 catechism rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
every built thing has its unmeant purpose
Elizabeth
Oct 12, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
The range of subjects is amazing.

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve (excerpt from the poem in the volume)
Saw you walking barefoot
Taking a long look at the new moon's eyelid
later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping elsewhere
Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Then, she also discusses illuminates socio/political issues, such as in "Ballad of the Poverties."

There's the poverty of the cockroach kingdom and the rusted toilet bowl
The poverty of t
...more
metaphor
Dec 25, 2015 metaphor rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, adrienne-rich
Laid my ear to your letter trying to hear
Tongue on your words to taste you there
Couldn’t read what you had never written there
Played your message over
feeling bad
Played your message over it was all I had
To tell me what and wherefore
this is what it said:
I’m tired of you asking me why
I’m tired of words like the chatter of birds
Give me a pass, let me just get by
Stephanie Kelley
Nov 17, 2013 Stephanie Kelley rated it really liked it
god she is good so so so good, even when she's not that good she's still so good
Tressa
Jun 02, 2011 Tressa rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Adrienne Rich has some solid poems, but most of hers don't resonate with what's going on and what went on in my life.
Lia
Mar 16, 2017 Lia rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Goodreads is deleting my review lately ... hm. There are some good poems in this collection, but as a whole it is too insular (in my view).
Ba Jin
Mar 03, 2017 Ba Jin added it
Shelves: poetry
Really liked "Waiting for Rain, for Music," "Domain," and "From Sickbed Shores." "Ballade of the Poverties" reminded me of Bishop.
Nicola
Oct 15, 2012 Nicola rated it really liked it
I'd like to give this one 3 and a half stars because Rich is a wonderful and important poet, but this wasn't one of my favorite collections. So I'll be generous and give it 4. When I read these poems alone, I didn't connect with the majority of them--some felt a touch didactic, while others, ironically, felt a touch obscure. But when I discussed this book in a book group, it opened up. We started fittingly with the poem "Generosity," in which Rich contemplates her approaching death through anima ...more
Full Stop
Jun 13, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: spring-2011
http://www.full-stop.net/2011/03/07/r...

Review by Alli Carlisle

Adrienne Rich has said of her new collection, and every synopsis has quoted, “I believe almost everything I know, have come to understand, is somewhere in this book.” This is no minor promise from such a lion of the literary sphere—venerated public intellectual, radical feminist and leftist, recipient (and refuser) of the highest awards for recognition of poetry. Her newest collection, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010, i
...more
Craig Werner
Jun 05, 2011 Craig Werner rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Written "From Sickbed Shores," as she titles a series of reflections on approaching mortality, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve was the last book Rich published during her lifetime. She'd been living with pain for a long time and she doesn't avoid that reality, acknowledging that she is writing her words "with a clawed hand" ("Circum/stances"). In "Don't Flinch" and "Black Locket," she confronts the "negative archaeology" of her condition, thinking of the inevitable reality that "Friends go missing, ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The only other poetry by Rich that I've read, Diving Into the Wreck: Poems, 1971-1972, comes from the 1970s. When I read it just a few months ago, it resonated with me. I wanted to go deeper, to take it with me alone, and read the poems repeatedly. (read my review here)

The poetry in Tonight No Poetry Will Serve, which is a finalist for the National Book Award, is much more fragmented. Most of the subjects seem to be observational rather than felt, or at least held at arm's length.

I liked this l
...more
Julie Leung
Jan 03, 2012 Julie Leung rated it really liked it
In my eyes, the worst of Adrienne Rich would still be among the best of contemporary American poetry. So even though I would say this isn't one of my favorite volumes of her work, it still contains some haunting feats of word magic. Chief among them: "Turbulence," "Waiting for Rain, for Music," and the Axel Avakar suite.

I do admire the range of the works represented in this slim collection. Some intensely political, fiercely rhythmic stuff.

I was able to snag this book for free, though I can se
...more
Andrea Blythe
Sep 04, 2011 Andrea Blythe rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I connected to Rich's collection of poetry on an intellectual level, rather than an emotional one. I didn't so much melt into her words (as I do with some poetry), and read, re-read, and thought about it, trying to make the connections between one phrase, line, or stanza, to the next.

Her lines a purposefully ragged, using blank space between lines and words more often than punctuation, and the tend to tumble into one another. Intellectual or otherwise, the writing is beautiful, and there are se
...more
SmarterLilac
Jan 09, 2012 SmarterLilac rated it really liked it
Damn. This book is stunning. The people who wrote the blurb on the back smartly selected its title poem to draw the reader in, and it is a stellar example of the richness (no pun intended) in these pieces. My favorite is the wonderful 'Don't Flinch,' which so adroitly captures the life of the politcal artist (with the verve and wit of A.R.'s classic work.)

Sharp and concise, these poems are some of her best ever.
Tasha
Sep 13, 2014 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping
elsewhere

Tonight I think
no poetry will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb disgraced goes on doing

now diagram the sentence
Hadrian
May 05, 2012 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, poetry
It's a tragedy that I've only found out about this wonderful writer a mere month after she passed. Damn it all.

This slim volume has some jarring phrases and turns of image which are stuck with me. They connect on an intellectual/analytical level as well as a deeply emotional one. History and myth and emotion and feeling.

Need more. 89 pages is not enough, though they seem like much more, with what remains.
c
Apr 30, 2016 c rated it really liked it
I don't think this was her best work but - to reiterate a point I think most reviews make - it literally doesn't matter because Adrienne Rich is so incredibly good. It's a struggle with oppression, with the profound unfairness of human existence, with language itself and with poetic language, more specifically, and it is both through and despite these things a beautiful work. "Tonight No Poetry Will Serve" is flat out one of the most incredible and sharp poems I've ever read.
Deborah
Dec 02, 2013 Deborah rated it really liked it
Playful poems and delightful word arrangements:

Did you then holding
the phone tongue your own lips finger your naked shoulder as
if you could liquefy touch into sound through wires to lips
or shoulders lick

Axel Avakar
The I you know isn’t me, you said, truthtelling liar

Axel: backstory
Dreamt you into existence, did I, boy -
comrade who would love
everything I loved
Barbara
Jun 16, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rich's new volume of poetry, especially the poem which shares the title of the book. Rich can be obscure, but that only adds to the depth and beauty of her poems. I liked being caught off-guard by her word choice and images; a great addition to my collection of poetry.
D.
Nov 18, 2011 D. rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Not one of my favorite collections but not a deterrent from buying her entire works either. There were some parts that made the lesser parts worth it; but nothing in here compares to some of her best for me.
Leonard
Apr 11, 2011 Leonard rated it really liked it
Rich's poetry is often complex, obscure, and mysterious and this collection is no different, and yet you never regret reading her work because there is something there to think about even if you're not sure what it is!
Sam Mills
Mar 10, 2011 Sam Mills rated it really liked it
I was expecting something of more substance. This is a pretty anemic collection. (The perils of buying online.) It offers a few poems of interest, but the publisher should have waited until they'd found a few more to publish a "collection."
Sueb
Mar 28, 2012 Sueb marked it as to-read
Just Read on FB that Adrienne passed today. so sad. Also read that this got nominated for a National Book Award. Must Read soon!
Jasonlylescampbell
Jul 29, 2015 Jasonlylescampbell rated it liked it
This was good ... some of the poetry was hard for me to follow or understand. Some of it was very powerful. Poverty of Poverties I think was one that stood out.
Annie
Jan 15, 2017 Annie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up right after the election. It was vital for me.
Ada
Nov 26, 2015 Ada rated it liked it
Shelves: poesia, lit-usa, s-xx
3,5
missy jean
Jan 17, 2014 missy jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The Axel Avakar series is my favorite part of this collection.
Marissa
Jun 02, 2013 Marissa rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I loved the poems I loved, but the collection as a whole didn't really do it for me.
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Adrienne Rich (b. 1929). Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College in 1951, the same year her first book of poems, A Change of World, appeared. That volume, chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and her next, The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems ...more
More about Adrienne Rich...

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“Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping
elsewhere

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb disgraced goes on doing

now diagram the sentence”
11 likes
“For every bandaged wound
I’ll scrape another   open”
2 likes
More quotes…