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Arts of the possible essays and conversations

Written over a span of three decades, the essays in this collection return again and again to a common set of questions and motifs that Rich has been grappling with for much of her writing life.

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The interdependence between poetry and politics, art and community, the self and the outside world — these make up the strands in a years-long arc of conversation that coheres amazingly well. What comes across most immediately, though, is the fact that Rich is first and foremost a poet — one who puts her poetic stamp on every paragraph.

As early as the Foreward, you can hear the music of her prose: Our senses are currently whip-driven by a feverish new pace of technological change. They pulse, fade out, and pulse again in human tissue, human nerves, and in the elemental humus of memory, dreams, and art, where there are no bygone eras.

  1. Our senses are currently whip-driven by a feverish new pace of technological change. They pulse, fade out, and pulse again in human tissue, human nerves, and in the elemental humus of memory, dreams, and art, where there are no bygone eras.
  2. As early as the Foreward, you can hear the music of her prose. She believes, like Marx, that society can provide equality, literacy and freedom for all.
  3. I have found myself returning many times to these essays when I am in search of inspiration. Where, in any mainstream public discourse, is this self-referential monologue put to the question?
  4. She believes, like Marx, that society can provide equality, literacy and freedom for all.

They are in us, they can speak to us, they can teach us if we desire it. Rich not only uses poetic language to describe political issues, she also makes explicit her belief that art and politics are inherently linked.

This means that her book is politically assertive, sometimes subtly and sometimes very directly. In the title essay, for instance, she interrogates capitalism: I have been thinking about the self-congratulatory self-promotion of capitalism as a global, transnational order, superseding governments and the very meaning of free elections.

  • She challenges "professional intellectuals" i;
  • I found my prejudices and assumptions constantly challenged by Rich;
  • Her clear-sighted analyses of the body, gender, race and class are still radical;
  • I found my prejudices and assumptions constantly challenged by Rich.

I have especially been noting the corruptions of language employed to manage our perceptions of all this. Where capitalism invokes freedom, it means the freedom of capital. Where, in any mainstream public discourse, is this self-referential monologue put to the question?

Here and elsewhere she expresses her concern with things like poverty, racism, sexism, and the fact that art has a relationship, whether acknowledged or not, to these things. Of course, tackling such heavy themes usually risks heavy-handedness, but these writings manage to remain unoppressive.

  1. As early as the Foreward, you can hear the music of her prose. Aiming for dialogue instead of monologue, Rich is constantly sharing her questions.
  2. She challenges "professional intellectuals" i. I have found myself returning many times to these essays when I am in search of inspiration.
  3. While she has seen the rise of identity politics and its tendency to splinter people into warring factions, she urges us to discover our common humanity.
  4. This means that her book is politically assertive, sometimes subtly and sometimes very directly.
  5. Instead of presenting whole packaged ideas, Arts of the Possible lets you peer into the process of how ideas stew and develop and change over time. America, she argues, is capable of becoming a society which "honours both human individuality and the search for a decent common life.

Along with their artistic integrity, the essays are engaging because they seem to invite you into a conversation. Aiming for dialogue instead of monologue, Rich is constantly sharing her questions: But at the same time that she tunes her writing to the ears of these particular audiences, she also always seems aware of other listeners — us — and includes them in her exchange.

Arts of the Possible

In a recent reading, Adrienne Rich said that as she was putting this collection together she felt some of her earlier writings sounded archaic. But I like this. Instead of presenting whole packaged ideas, Arts of the Possible lets you peer into the process of how ideas stew and develop and change over time.