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The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004 Paperback – January 17, 2006

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Trust Rich, a clarion poet of conscience, to get the fractured timbre of the times just right in a collection of vigorous lyric poems about the first four years of the twenty-first century, a period of terror, war, corporate imperialism, outrageous lies, and miasmal inarticulateness. A moment in history, Rich avers, in arresting imagery and flinty syntax, in which language has been processed into banality just like so much of the American landscape. Forthright, precise, witty, and keenly attuned to complacency, reluctance, and fear, Rich fights back with exhilaratingly choreographed poems about inane, high-pitched public cell-phone conversations, television's numbing soundtrack, the crude oversimplification and commercialization of public discourse, and the "viral / spread of social impotence producing social silence." Rich also writes piercingly, and inevitably, of war, most poignantly in the powerful title poem, in which a courageous teacher in a besieged city tells his students, "Don't let your faces turn to stone / Don't stop asking me why." Similarly, Rich tells readers not to give up hope and not to remain silent, because truth flows unabated behind the facade of spin and babble, and it will prevail. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[The School Among the Ruins] makes acute observations about language, American identity, and the catastrophes of war. Whether lamenting the garishness of modern culture or condemning the war on terror, Rich remains a poet of impeccable principle and unwavering conscience."

Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393327558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393327557
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,924,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) is an American poet, writer, 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."

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In 1988 my ardent feminist girlfriend gave me a copy of "The Fact of a Doorframe" (the 1984 edition) and told me not to speak to her again until I finished reading it. This seemed an odd request, but since I really wanted to speak to her again, I read it. Rich's uncompromising passion not only moved me; it started a process that changed my view of the world and ended up changing my life. I guess you should expect that from a writer this powerful. She never fails to surprise me. This book is no exception.

P.S. I particularly love "Your Native Land, Your Life", "The Dream of a Common Language", and "What is Found There". ("What is Found There" is supposed to be essays and letters but it seems like poetry to me.)
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Format: Paperback
No greater poet exists. The School Among the Ruins is her best work in years--she is at the top of her game. This is taut, lyric poetry. Beautiful in form and thought. And, as always with Rich, informed by excellent ethics and motives. She is a poet who has successfully challenged social injustice with her poetry. She doesn't have to justify herself to anyone--certainly not the reviewer from Ohio--but I feel I must.
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Format: Hardcover
Adrienne Rich, The School Among the Ruins (Norton, 2004)

One of the blurbs on the jacket of Adrienne Rich's latest book proclaims Rich one of the poets whose every new book is cause for excitement. I can think of at least an hundred others for whom that should be true, and Rich is not one of them, especially if The School Among the Ruins is anything to go by.

It's obvious from some of the pieces here that Rich does know, or at least remember, that image should be the heart of all poetry; in the rest, however, she seems to have completely forgotten that fact, descending to the realm of political prose broken up into little lines to make it artistic. Little lines do not make poetry. Image makes poetry, and there is precious little of it to be found here. You'd be better off turning to one of the books by one of those poets whose every new work should be cause for excitement (Charles Simic, Ira Sadoff, Ted Kooser, Rochelle Theo Pienn, Debra Allbery, Heather McHugh, Elizabeth Willis, Peter Gizzi, and Dzvinia Orlowsky all come to mind very quickly), leaving this for once you've exhausted the rest of your local library's new releases shelf for poetry. **
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