- Hardcover: 80 pages
- Publisher: W W Norton; 1 edition (Oct. 25 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393041662
- ISBN-13: 978-0393041668
- Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 1.5 x 21.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,023,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Fox Hardcover – Oct 1 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
The justly celebrated Rich (Diving into the Wreck, The Fact of a Doorframe, etc.) has been publishing verse now for over 50 years; her oeuvre has included 1950s formalism, some of the subtlest protest verse of the 1960s and broadly successful volumes in verse and prose that helped set the agenda for 1970s feminism and gay and lesbian liberation. Rich's recent style developed slowly throughout the 1990s comes to full fruition here, conveying her familiar attentions to social injustice and intense introspection with and a sometimes harsh, fragmented, versatile line whose sources include George Oppen and Anglo-Saxon accentual verse. Rich praises, commemorates and questions friends and public figures, while thinking about what political action means; lines and stanzas glide over West Coast landscape, revive or revise history, and interrogate the poet's frustration with a profligate, unjust society. "On the bare slope where we were driven," Rich insists in "Messages," "The most personal feelings became historical." One of several powerful poems for, to and about unnamed friends or mentors offers "A lighthouse keeper's ethics:/ you tend for all or none/ for this you might set your furniture on fire." With her emotional complexity, her scratched-up sonic surfaces and her strong ethical commitments, Rich has long wanted to set her readers' minds blazing: more often than not, in her new work, she succeeds. (Oct.) Forecast: Rich continues to combine a large popular following with large-scale academic attention and high-brow acclaim, on a scale almost no other poet can manage. Stronger in itself than her 1998 Midnight Salvage, this volume should get more help from Rich's recent collection of essays and interviews, Arts of the Possible. Rich's first book, A Change of World, made her the Yale Younger Poet for 1951; that book's 50th anniversary may further boost media coverage.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
One of a handful of major American poets whose every new work is a cause for excitement, Rich is as stunning in her use of skewed, penetrating language as she is implacable in her politics of liberation. Art and conviction have always mixed well in her work a real accomplishment and they continue to do so here. But her arguments are perhaps less edgy, her tone a little more malleable than in previous collections. As she declares in "Regardless," a poem about loving a man, "we'd love/ regardless of manifestoes I wrote or signed." Still, this is vigorous, engaged poetry, as exemplified by "Victory," which compares the ailing Tory Dent to "the Nike of Samothrace/ on a staircase wings in blazing/ backdraft," and the spare "Veteran's Day," which mourns humankind's violent history while observing "how the beneficiary/ of atrocities yearns toward innocence." And then there's the title poem, a telescoped look at the female identity that is at once witty and searing. Neither a departure nor a radical advancement, this is instead another lovely augmentation adding immeasurably to Rich's panoply of works. Highly recommended. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The poems in "Fox" are true to form. Though not especially complicated on the surface, her meanings are perplexingly INTERIOR; and that is where the real work of understanding her must take place. In response to what Rich has demanded of herself, the reader is called upon to open up both intellect and heart, and to make leaps in imaginative connectivity--poetically, politically, philosophically, personally. It's not always easy, and thus you have readers who will just dismiss Rich--the dismissals come from students assigned her work: "boring"; from male critics: "strident feminist"; from younger poets: "outdated academic"; from conservative readers: "left-wing lesbian who's out of touch with mainstream values". None of these descriptions are accurate, but unfortunately it is thus that a little masterpiece like "Fox" has only one review here on Amazon.
"Fox", like all of Rich's books, showcases her acute observations of cultural signals couched in personal disclosures. The poems usually call for several re-readings before her intentions come clear. A poem like "Waiting for You at the Mystery Spot" addresses multi-culturalism, family values, ecology, false and real spiritualism, and the needs and fears inherent in human love, all within the framework of waiting on a bench at a tourist attraction. But if you don't know what the Mystery Spot is (or what it might wryly reference); and if you don't accept the enduring and enriching mystery that characterizes the relationship between the human mind and the forest; and if you don't see that family bonds are the same beyond nationality or modern configuration; and if you don't catch the death-rebirth-regeneration reference to the Greek "mystai" streaming toward the heart of the mystery in ancient Eleusis (the Demeter/Persephone myth and all it entails); you might be missing some of the deeper background that will make the poem more meaningful to you.
What is true for that singular poem is true for most of the poems in this collection. If you're unaccustomed to thinking metaphorically this will be a good opportunity to start that practice. After all, a cultural vacuum threatens us if we are not able to think metaphorically, artistically and critically. Adrienne Rich was always aware of that and insisted that we could think more deeply, feel more passionately, and act with more political conviction. She strove to see the whole picture and rejected the sleigh-of-hand paucity of what is served up as art and mystery in our culture. These poems reflect that effort, and are neither strident nor boring nor out of touch. Instead we hear the voice of one who was amazingly attuned to the odd wonder of all that the world as language has to offer.