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Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth is one of Adrienne Rich's most unpredictable and evocative collections. In the folk/blues tradition behind "Rhyme," in the incantatory pattern of "Behind the Motel," in the voices from past and present in "Letters Censored, Shredded, Returned to Sender or Judged Unfit to Send," in the dystopic scenes and intimate encounters of "Draft # 20 ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published October 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton Company
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  247 ratings  ·  38 reviews


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Julie Ehlers
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
So good. It's the second-to-last collection she ever published, and it's up there with her best.
Craig Werner
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
As Rich entered her 70s, she began looking back in a different way than she'd previously done. You could look at the book as a long conversation with/meditation on the ghosts/legacy of the Sixties and Seventies. In "Skeleton Key," she ends a section that begins "Cut me a skeleton key/ to that other time, that city/ talk starting up, deals and poetry," with an acknowledgement that she is "Exhuming the dead / Their questions." She circles back repeatedly to the sense that that era was, in fundamen ...more
Grady McCallie
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Poetry is always hit or miss for me. I imagine these are very good poems - they are certainly dense. Not quite stream of consciousness, though sometimes the juxtaposition of words, and the line breaks, seem impressionistic. There's a vagueness in the settings for these poems, as though the material, concrete world just isn't that important a part of what Rich is trying to convey. Unfortunately, most of these poems were lost on me - I didn't understand them analytically, and they didn't light me ...more
C
Sep 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I felt like I just couldn't "get into" this collection at first. --In other words, I felt too stupid to really understand it.

The last couple of sections really drew me in, though, and wouldn't let me stop reading until far too late in the evening.

My favorite lines from the end of the first section of Three Elegies:

And beneath the skin of boredom
indecipherable fear

Leslie
Apr 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Really only 2 stars. While I did like a few of the poems ("Rhyme", "Hubble Photographs: After Sappho", parts of "Draft #2006"), most left me either unmoved or confused. Perhaps I should have gotten an earlier collection, more similar to "Planetarium". ...more
Emma
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
The GOAT

Forever resonating.
Jennifer Collins
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Adrienne Rich's poems are always gorgeous, provocative, and striking. In this collection in particular, though, there's a sort of haunting quality to many of the works. The political element that comes into her poetry so often, and which makes for some of my favorite poems, is turned more toward personal revelation and struggle here, focused more on characters and situations which readers will find strangely available and familiar, less documentary in a larger sense as opposed to a relatable, if ...more
Caitlin Conlon
3.5 stars. honestly, not my type of poetry, so I don't feel completely comfortable rating this. I could really appreciate these poems, even if they weren't personally my favorite. Rich is clearly immensely talented.
Mike Jensen
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
There are certainly some fine poems in this book, but either Rich's concerns are not my concerns or her way of expressing her concerns are sufficiently strange to me that I never felt she was speaking to me.
Abby Franks
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Punctuation is needed and important! So difficult to read. A couple of gems, but frustrating overall.
Lisa M.
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was sick while reading this book, and it really influenced my reading. I would pick up the book and put it down because my head hurt too much to concentrate. So, this will be a light review. This book had a few different themes. I really enjoyed the quotes Rich opens the collection with. She claims that the "I" and "you" in poetry are not necessarily real. The idea of misunderstood identity is carried out in the first half of the book, where appearances are not always what they seem. The last ...more
Story of Choice
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Story of Choice by: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth is not a linear narrative easily read in a few sittings, and unlike many novels and guidebooks, Rich's work cannot be quickly digested and encapsulated for another party. However, she wields language as a master craftswoman, uniquely reflects and validates my own experience, and invites me to expand myself with her observations of places unfamiliar to me, or, just as gratifying, with new observations of more familiar places. Rich is a keen and sympathetic obser ...more
Lauren
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
If this wasn't Adrienne Rich, I would probably be singing this collection's praises. But the problem with having an amazing and lengthy career is that you have quite a body of work to compete with and frankly, I don't know that I'm the greatest fan of Ms. Rich's current work. However, there are some standout pieces and I love anyone who combines politics and poetry. There were a couple pieces that seemed to be inspired by the aftermath of Katrina. Moving, but not crucial like the rest of her wor ...more
Louvaine
Apr 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Not to my taste, though initially I thought I might like these poems. Except for "Rhythm" and one or two others, this collection seems rambling and very disjointed. I had trouble following the flow of the poems, they didn't make sense to me, nor were they pleasing for the words or rhythm. It almost seemed like the author put too much effort into being "artsy" and clever, rather than letting the words speak for themselves. I just didn't get it or enjoy it. Oh well.
Jessica
Oct 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Adrienne Rich is a magician when it comes to putting one-syllable words in a long row, each one heavy and full as a silver coin. All lined up, they are like a necklace without the string.

While for sound she is a genius, for meaning she veers towards the private. I am left out too much of the time for my taste.
GKW
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I enjoy watching Rich's choices and the directions that her poetry takes --often evolving in response to current events. While this collection is varied in its references and in its resonance for me, it contains some remarkable passages and pieces. I am struck by what Rich has skillfully done without, and by the musical quality of the sparser poems.
Gregg
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Adrienne Rich offers us another journey into what it means to be a poet today in a crass and harsh society. This book is a must read for those who like experimental writing and progressive politics. She is pushing the bounderies of thought and song. My review of it for Z Magazine (Jan. 2008) can be found here: https://zcommunications.org/zmag/view...
SmarterLilac
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Kind of a let down. I feel this lacks the depth and beauty of Rich's better works. I was also expecting to see more detailed exploration of some of the great social tragedies we experienced in this era, at least in America (Bush Administration corruption, Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War for example.) If those topics were addressed in here, I missed it.
Lee
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
A little too experimental for my taste. Some good stuff in here (After Sappho, Draft #2006, The University Reopens...) but overall I wasn't knocked out. Perhaps that's attributed to late style, but not quite my cup of tea.
Michael Vagnetti
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This are poems of political/dissident commitment sutured with personal extensions. The modalities are willful, loose physics of texture, time, and transformation. I am itched by the ability to simulate abstract expressionist effects through daubs of wispily connected sensual phrases.
Nicholas
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The only possible way to comment on a book of poetry is to figure out which poem or poems are my favorite. In this collection, "Letters Censored Shredded Returned to Sender Or Judged Unfit to Send" is that poem, six pages of fragments of ideas that somehow work perfectly together.
Rachel Coyne
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once you find the rhythm these poems mesmerize
Crystal
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I enjoyed this collection from Rich. Some of my favorites were "Skeleton key," "Melancholy Piano," okay, nevermind, I liked it all. But I do think my favorite was "Letters..."
Amber
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not really my style of poetry and I found myself struggling to connect with it.
Kristina
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Rich's writing has a highly unique style. In this particular book, she avoids the traditional conventions of punctuation—a technique commonly utilized by language poets.
Stephanie Kelley
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
GOD SHE'S SO GOOD
Corinne Blackmer
Jan 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
read
Laura
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A melancholy collection, gently sweeps you along.
Susan
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
A little too diffuse for my taste. If I had a guide walking me through Rich's references and life I might have gotten into it, but coming in cold it rarely moved 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