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What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  495 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Through journals, letters, dreams, and close readings of the work of many poets, Adrienne Rich reflects on how poetry and politics enter and impinge on American life. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the author as well as her post-9/11 "Six Meditations in Place of a Lecture."
Paperback, Expanded Edition, 352 pages
Published October 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton Company (first published October 1st 1993)
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4.37  · 
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 ·  495 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Andy Jackson
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly inspiring and challenging collection of essays on poetry, particularly its politically transformative dimension. While Rich does speak about and from the USA, this is not so much a limitation but an implied challenge to the reader to think through their own context. From the final essay:

"A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill, what and when to burn, or even how to theorize. It reminds you (for you have known, somehow, all along, maybe lost track) where and when
Erika Higbee
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful reminder to aspiring poets and those who read poetry. Adrienne Rich’s book dismantles common conceptions of poetry as merely “resting on the given” and revitalizes poetry’s connection to the “multi-various shadings of human life” and “the heartbeat, memories, images of strangers.”

She introduces the poet as a kind of global citizen, that one should “track their own desire” as a found object and communicate this to the world, however that desire is able to manifest poetically. For Ric
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Inspiring book on the value of poetry and the importance of poetry in people's lives. There is an especially good section titled 'To Invent What We Desire' -- it's a poem that basically sums up the themes of the book. And it is an inspiring piece of writing for anyone who wants to write, or is presently writing:

'That to track your own desire,
in your own language, is not an isolated
task. You yourself are marked by family,
gender, caste, landscape, the struggle
to make a living, or the absence of su
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crucial. Timeless.

So rarely do essays successfully argue for the importance of poetry and engaged politics in daily life. And rarer to have a speaker this thoughtful.

You might be turned off by the occasional flourishes of new age (Native American philosophy) or poetic flight (lists of bird names), but Rich is too deft to get mired in the cliches.

Why wasn't I required to read this in any of the many English classes I took?
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shows a deep understanding of the subject. I read it twice because I didn't want to miss anything.
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably/ every day/ for lack of what is found there. - William Carlos Williams
Jennifer Jank
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my May reading challenge book, as Adrienne Rich was born this month. I'd heard of her - one of her quotes was printed on our t-shirts for a Take Back the Night march when I was in college in the '90s.

But I'd never read her. As I've grown older, I've come to appreciate more poetry, including Alice Walker and Shakespeare. Maybe now I'm finally mature enough to get it where I wasn't before.

This book isn't her poetry, but she talks about how poetry illuminates the world, how much we need poe
Amy Smith
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An examination of the political in poetry, ranging from the direct and intentional to the subtle and subconscious. Still new to the world of poetry, I found this book (literally “found” while killing time at the library in the poetry section) to be a great introduction to several poets (including Rich), their work in the context of politics, and the role of poetry as an often underrated and sometime overtly dismissed political medium. I look forward to revisiting this book down the road.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nadine Gordimer writes, "Adrienne Rich is the Blake of American letters." I really hope that William Blake is the Rich of English letters. This book is amazing and recommend it to anybody who reads poems.
Michael Norwitz
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Adrienne Rich writes about poetry (both hers and other people's), politics, and other things that cross her mind. The politics are unsurprising but the beauty of her language carries you along.
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tucker by: Jesus
Shelves: beautiful
A manifesto on behalf of the power of poetry to give voice to the politically marginalized, to resist commercialization by its very nature, and to remind us of our deeper desires for calm and reflection even when the stress and misfortune of everyday life lead us to a place where it is not easy to reflect. Presented as a long series of personal essays, it seemed that the author was saying the same thing over and over again, so one might just choose to read a few, but each essay was individually ...more
Shane Ebbert
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Love this quote :

Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you…it means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: “I have an inward t
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This book was beautifully written and it felt cohesive although it was composed of essays on a variety of topics. Some of the things Rich said about feeling guilty for writing poetry when things are going wrong in the world really hit home with me. She reassures herself (and the reader) that poetry and art are inherently political, and are necessary facets of social justice and freedom. She also refers to many other poets, who I am now interested in reading. The best book I've read in awhile.
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i've read this book in sections, and am always re-reading sections. Adrienne Rich gives so much to chew over in her discussions of poetry; i digest some new angle of her essays each time. It's one of my standard "nightstand" books...i often read a section before going to sleep.

'Getting to take a "master class" with Rich in april 2000 & have her personally sign my copy of this book made it all the more treasured...
Daniel Klawitter
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
"The reading of a poem, a poetry reading, is not a spectacle, nor can it be passively received. It's an exchange of electrical currents through language...I can't write a poem to manipulate you; it will not succeed...I can't write a poem from dishonest motives; it will betray its shoddy provenance....I can't write a poem simply from good intentions, wanting to set things right, make it all better; the energy will leak out of it, it will end by meaning less than it says."
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm only about half way through this right now, but it's absolutely what i need to be reading. This book was written in the '90s but feels completely relevant to this moment. Rich's language is beautiful, intricately woven, and every bit of it rings true. This book is painful in the best sense in that in challenges my way of thinking about poetry, about politics, about art and about my own life. I'm very thankful for this book.
Jeffrey Bumiller
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In the truest sense, Adrienne Rich embodied what it means to be a poet: an artist/writer who is able to reflect on their society, seeing the past without shying away from its grotesqueness; filtering that acquired knowledge into an (as honest as possible) commentary on the present and both a warning and hope for the future, all while using beautiful, damn near profound language.
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a salve in a world of quick judgments, shallow thinking and lack of curiosity. Every time I read Rich I fall in love a little more with the beauty of her mind, the turn of her words and her deep, thoughtful writing. Highly recommend.
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers of poetry and readers of poetry, maybe a polititian or two
Shelves: nonfiction, poetry
I do want to read this again. I've read it a couple of times. I am always amazed at Rich's insight. She's just brilliant.
Megan K
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. Awesome essays on what it is to write and what it is to live as a poet.
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book changed my life...I'm so glad to be re-reading it including reading it aloud to my sweetie...Rich is extraordinary to read aloud!
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: brilliant visionaries in training
"It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there"
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adrienne Rich does it again. Her prose essays, like her prose, is incredibly intelligent and well thought out. Poetry, politics, and women's issues.
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting ponderous read on the intersection of poetry and politics. If only I was a poet.
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
its been a while and i need to reread it but i do recall that its one of those books that you make feel as if maybe, just maybe, there's some reason to go on living.
Amy Sawyer
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved Rich's essays on poetry, life, and politics. She is a wonderful writer and a force in contemporary poetry. Love her.
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I love this book!
missy jean
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
For reading and re-reading, forever.
Danielle DeTiberus
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Proves once and for all that poetry is political. Adrienne Rich is a bad ass.
Donal Lyons
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
"You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it. This is not generally taught in school."

Ch XX "A communal poetry" is good.
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Adrienne Cecile Rich was an American poet, essayist and feminist. 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 n ...more
“[Poetry] is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.” 136 likes
“To read as if your life depended on it would mean to let into your reading your beliefs, the swirl of your dreamlife, the physical sensations of your ordinary carnal life; and simultaneously, to allow what you're reading to pierce routines, safe and impermeable, in which ordinary carnal life is tracked, charted, channeled. Then, what of the right answers, the so-called multiple-choice examination sheet with the number 2 pencil to mark one choice and one choice only?” 18 likes
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