Mailbox Monday #396

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson edited by Susan Snively for review from QuartoKnows and MoonDance Press.

As the premier title in the Poetry for Kids series, Emily Dickinson introduces children to the works of poet Emily Dickinson. Poet, professor, and scholar Susan Snively has carefully chosen 35 poems of interest to children and their families. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by Christine Davenier and thoroughly explained by an expert. The gentle introduction, which is divided into sections by season of the year, includes commentary, definitions of important words, and a foreword.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which I snagged at the library sale.

Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters–Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth– and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.

Adrienne Rich’s Poetry, also snagged at the library sale.

This wonderful book: Adrienne, Rich Poetry: Texts of the Poems is a joy. The editor have carefully chooses their materials to provide the opportunity for an on-going study in the classroom, of an important American poet.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, also snagged at the library sale.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

What did you receive?

Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 72 pages
I’m an Amazon Affiliate

Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich rocks readers with each wave of verse, undulating in the depths of darkness to rise up into the air gasping for breath.  Rich explores human nature, relationships between lovers, sisters, and more, but some of the most visceral poems are about self-reflection and even self-repair.  Beyond the verse and the poet’s exploration of self and humanity, these poems force readers into their own self-examinations, looking at their pasts, the current relationships, and where they wish to be in the future.  The hardest part about these kinds of poems is the internal digging that readers must do.

From "After Twenty Years" (page 13)

It is strange to be so many women,
eating and drinking at the same table,
those who bathed their children in the same basin
who kept their secrets from each other
walked the floors of their lives in separate rooms

How many different selves do we each have? If you’re a mother, there could be the professional self, the mother, and the individual without all the responsibilities and obligations, but Rich explores what all of those selves mean overall and that we must grab on to possibility, learning not to limit ourselves by adopting those labels.  In “When We Dead Awaken,” she explores the toll that the world can take on us, branding us with memories — both good and bad — but also how these experiences inform and shape us.  We have a duty to look out at our world, take in what we enjoy and reject what we do not — strive not only to change ourselves, but also our environment, which she achieves with phenomenal imagery of scarred landscapes by mining and more.

Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich works on several planes of existence at once — the surface self-examination of the poet, then of the reader, but more so of humanity and its impact on the environment and each individual.  At times, these poems will feel like drifting on the current, and at others, readers’ ships will be overrun with waves as Rich bombards them with images and twists in her verse.  There is a distinctly feminist and political bent to some of these poems, particularly those focused on the Vietnam War.  A phenomenal collection worth discussing with book clubs, but also something for quieter reflection.

About the Author:

Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich was one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. Widely read and hugely influential, Rich’s career spanned seven decades and has hewed closely to the story of post-war American poetry itself. Her earliest work, including A Change of World (1951) which won the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Award, was formally exact and decorous, while her work of the late 1960s and 70s became increasingly radical in both its free-verse form and feminist and political content.

Book 16 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.




29th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.

Tribute to Adrienne Rich

When an influential poet passes out of this world and into the next, all plans are set aside to pay tribute. In this case, Adrienne Rich — one of the most influential feminists and poets of her time — died on March 27 at the age of 82.

She has been compared to Betty Friedan, who wrote The Feminine Mystique, by the New York Times and others. Beth Kephart has even been touched by Rich’s poetry, including one of my favorites in her post honoring her. She has been decried and praised for her brash poetry against war and the political world, and she once famously said that she could not accept the National Medal of Arts from the Clinton Administration because “I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration. [Art] means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of the power which holds it hostage.”

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve from Poets.org

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb    disgraced    goes on doing

now diagram the sentence
Poet Adrienne Rich

From her hometown in Baltimore, Md., Rich created an unconventional life for herself as a mother, wife, poet, and activist, who often focused her energy on “outing” the oppression of women and lesbians and who modified the traditional cadence of free verse poetry. Whether she was a lesbian or not is irrelevant to her contributions to the antiwar and feminist movements as well as her poetic contributions that often were confessional and shocking. She strove to change the world through poetry and the power of the written word, even if she acknowledged herself that poetry could not do it alone. Though what some would consider a well-decorated poet from awards and fellowships, etc., I would almost say that she never felt she deserved them alone, but wanted to share them with all women and those that strive to make deep-rooted change in our society.

I’ll leave you with a portion of one of her poems from The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry edited by Rita Dove.

A Valediction Forbidding Morning (page 296)

My swirling wants.  Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the notations.

They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.

Please take a moment to reflect on the power of poetry and seek out Adrienne Rich’s words to celebrate change and passion.