Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) was the singular voice of her generation and one of our most important American poets. The author of more than thirty books, she brought discussions of gender, race, and class to the forefront of poetical discourse. She was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the National Book Award, the Bollinger Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Adrienne Rich’s Later Poems: Selected and New, 1971–2012 displays the strong trajectory of the work of one of the most distinguished artists of American letters. After her death in March 2012, Rich left behind a manuscript of mature work that speaks for her concern with a poetics of relation along with a passionate attention to craft.
In addition to her selections from twelve volumes of published work, Later Poems: Selected and New contains ten powerful new poems. Among these, “From Strata” is a kind of archaeology of the present day; “Itinerary” searches for an “indefinite future” in a menaced landscape; “For the Young Anarchists” offers a trope of skilled labor for political action; and the haunting voice of the “Teethsucking Bird” reminds us of what we have been told to forget.
These and other poems look back into history and forward into the future while engaging with contemporary moments. Rich’s singular command of language continues to the end.
"One of the central projects of the American poetic imagination in the last forty years has been a great reexamination of questions of power. Who has permission to speak? What is the poem allowed to address, and to whom does it speak? No one has applied a greater investment of heart to. this work than the irreplaceable Adrienne Rich. The expression of her passion took the form of a rigorous, lifelong exercise of the intellect, a patient struggle to discover how language might illuminate for our time the predicaments of women, of gay and lesbian people, of the powerless and the poor. Our poetry takes a turn, steered by this mighty woman's work, and it will never be the same again."
W. W. Norton