Rich, who died in March, described herself as "a poet who knows the social power of poetry," and in these essays she explores the alchemy of "the possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people. They are the most interesting thing in life."
I agree with that, and for years have admired her perspectives more than I have enjoyed her poetry, which I can take only in small doses. I found lots of good food for thought here, though my enthusiasm waxed and waned throughout the meandering compilation. I got most involved with her notions about how imagination conspires with intellect in the creative process, and its influence on identity and relationships.
"A certain freedom of the mind is needed, freedom to press on, to enter the currents of your thought like a glider pilot, knowing that your motion can be sustained, that the buoyancy of your attention will not be suddenly snatched away. Moreover, if the imagination is to transcend and transform experience it has to question, to challenge, to conceive of alternatives, perhaps to the very life you are living."
How to facilitate that kind of creative freedom within the context of one's daily commitments and chores has been much on my mind lately, and I wanted to read more about it than this volume provided. What I did read was well worth it, but it's a given that any collection by Rich is going to be as political as it personal, which I appreciate but happen not to be in the mood for. Perhaps that's why the read felt disjointed to me and I'm not giving it five stars.
The New York Times did a nice obit on her, which noted that for decades she was "among the most influential writers of the feminist movement and one of the best-known American public intellectuals. She wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose; the poetry alone has sold nearly 800,000 copies, according to W. W. Norton & Company, her publisher since the mid-1960s. Triply marginalized — as a woman, a lesbian and a Jew — Ms. Rich was concerned in her poetry, and in her many essays, with identity politics long before the term was coined."
Complete obit at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/books/adrienne-rich-feminist-poet-and-author-dies-at-82.html?pagewanted=all