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The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 Paperback – April 17, 1993


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Paperback, April 17, 1993
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (April 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393310337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393310337
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.3 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Adrienne Rich's new poems are important because they come so close to achieving the dream they're all at least partly about. The Dream of a Common Language explores the contours of a woman's heart and mind in language for everybody—language whose plainness, laughter, questions and nobility everyone can respond to. . . . No one is writing better or more needed verse than this.” (Boston Evening Globe)

About the Author

Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed and widely taught, Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) was for decades 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. Her constellation of honors includes a National Book Award for poetry for Tonight, No Poetry Will Serve, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1994, and a National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck. That volume, published in 1973, is considered her masterwork. Ms. Rich’s other volumes of poetry include The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose includes the essay collections On Lies, Secrets, and Silence; Blood, Bread, and Poetry; an influential essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” and the nonfiction book Of Woman Born, which examines the institution of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. In 2006, Rich was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. In 2010, she was honored with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award.

More About the Author

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) is an American poet, an important writer and feminist thinker, and activist in progressive causes. In a career spanning seven decades she wrote and published two dozen volumes of poetry and over a half-dozen of prose. Rich's poetry includes the collections Diving Into the Wreck, The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose work includes the collections On Lies, Secrets, & Silence; Blood, Bread, & Poetry; an influential essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," and Of Woman Born, a scholarly examination of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. She received the National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck, and was a finalist an additional three times, in 1956, 1967, and 1991. Other honors include a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1994, the Academy of American Poets' Wallace Stevens Award, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award, and the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1997 she turned down the National Medal for the Arts to protest the growing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands, writing to the NEA that "anyone familiar with my work from the early Sixties on knows that I believe in art's social presence--as breaker of official silences, as voice for those whose voices are disregarded, and as a human birthright."

Customer Reviews

For the fan of contemporary poetry, this is a collection which must be read and re-read.
Eric Maroney
I do love poetry and the literary arts in general, but these "poems" are disjointed and annoying.
JH
I'll tell you I am not a poetry person by nature but this collection of poems in amazing.
Deborah S. Eden

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Julie Jordan Scott on August 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I sat in a cushy green chair at Barnes and Noble reading these poems by Adrienne Rich and something unexplainable - almost impossible to put words to - happened to me.

I connected deeply to her messages, the words she wrote when I was a teen, might as well have been written right in the here and now. A lone tear slid down my face as I read about a woman in her 40's, like me, who was dying, not like me, who had a friend, like me, who wasn't sure how to support her in her time of need, universal.

I have experienced a lot of loss this year. The poetry of Adrienne Rich reached into my heart and let me express it more.

Isn't that what good poetry is supposed to be? A catalyst to awakening, cathartic, enriching?

Rich writes of power, female power.

She writes a poem about Paula Becker and Clara Westhoff (bride to Rainer Rilke, another favorite poet of mine.)

My favorite is "Transcendent Etude" which is, indeed, transcendent.

"No one ever told us we had to study our lives, make our lives a study..."

Study these poems and dive deeper into your life. You will not regret it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By CNewland on August 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've never left a review here before, but I feel compelled to on this one. I first discovered Adrienne Rich through a college class (focused on 20th century works by women), and at first I did groan a bit, not being a real avid fan of poetry. But I ended up reading this book in it's near entirety before the class even began. The first poem I randomly flipped open to was one of the 21 love poems, I believe, and it made me cry the first time I read it (and probably all the subsequent times as well). There's something about Adrienne Rich's poetry that just reached out and touched me in a very profound way, and I don't mean to sound all snobby or whatever, I just can't explain how much her poetry has meant to me. Because of this volume (and the others I rushed out to buy after finishing this one) I was finally able to put a name on something I'd been dealing with for over 2 years, which I hadn't ever been able to describe before.

There's just something about Rich's poetry that forces us to more closely examine ourselves and the people around us, to re- asses what our lives mean. I would have given this book 10 stars if I could, and I really can't recommend it enough. Even non- fans of poetry, as I was, may find themselves hooked by her words. I wish I could thank the poet in person for what she's given me.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By rgralow@aol.com on October 14, 1997
Format: Paperback
Adrienne Rich is a poet for everyone - especially those who say they don't like poetry - and the Dream of a Common Language is her most fascinating and accessible collection to date. Think poetry is boring, pretentious or hackneyed? Open up to "Love Poems" and find 32 sultry and pain-stakingly honest celebrations of lesbian love and urban survival. Rich has recently been receiving the wide recognition she deserves, and she will perhaps be the one to convince Americans to open their poetry books again.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
In The Dream of a Common Language, the poetry of Adrienne Rich reaches a realm of pure beauty. Rich cuts away the verbal excesses sometimes found in her other works and leaves the vibrant words to stand alone in their powerful simplicity. The reader finds herself emerged in the common language of love, pain, hope, and longing. Only when the final poem has been read, is she able to emerge, gasping, and view the world through vision forever altered by having seen through the eyes of Adrienne Rich
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Twice-lived on April 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Years ago I was trying to keep warm at an MBTA bus stop where I read the opening lines of "The Dream of a Common Language" on a poster that advertised a reading and discussion by the author at Brandeis. I was moved to tears. I didn't get to Brandeis, but I bought and still cherish the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Deborah S. Eden on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard about this when I was reading another book - it mentioned it, then I went on amazon and saw all the wonderful reviews and I thought, why not?
I'll tell you I am not a poetry person by nature but this collection of poems in amazing.
There is one about a woman with breast cancer that I must have read 10 times over it's just gut wretching, stabs you right in the heart.
Even if you normally wouldn't pick up poetry - try this. You won't be disappointed. There really are no words that I can think of besides amazing to describe it.
I was impressed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Rich, textured, honest, hard, open, The Dream of a Common Language is poetry at its most accomplished. Adrienne Rich appears to tap into the very deepest core of the human psyche here, creating a range of poems about love and loss which have a vast reach of expression and depth. For the fan of contemporary poetry, this is a collection which must be read and re-read.
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