*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 SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"[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."