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Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985

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Through a wide range of poetic pieces, Adrienne Rich explores in this collection the intricacies of being white, female, lesbian, Jewish, and a U.S. citizen, both at this time of her life and through the lens of her past.


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Through a wide range of poetic pieces, Adrienne Rich explores in this collection the intricacies of being white, female, lesbian, Jewish, and a U.S. citizen, both at this time of her life and through the lens of her past.

30 review for Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    From critiquing heterosexuality as a political institution to considering the social uses of populist poetry, Rich addresses a wide variety of topics in this short collection of essays. Many facets of her thought have been thoroughly absorbed by mainstream feminist discourse in America since the time of the collection's publication, making sections of it read as rather commonplace. But the essays on Hansberry and Bishop are brilliant, as are those that situate Rich's own artistic practice in the From critiquing heterosexuality as a political institution to considering the social uses of populist poetry, Rich addresses a wide variety of topics in this short collection of essays. Many facets of her thought have been thoroughly absorbed by mainstream feminist discourse in America since the time of the collection's publication, making sections of it read as rather commonplace. But the essays on Hansberry and Bishop are brilliant, as are those that situate Rich's own artistic practice in the context of her milieu.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    So, in my mission to read more works by women, I was beyond excited to start Adrienne Rich (especially because of Alison Bechdel's nod of approval for her - I am shameless). Maybe it was mistake to not have started with "Of Woman Born" or "Lies, Secrets and Silence" Imagine my disappointment to see the angry, irrational feminist trope come to life. Intially I skipped "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" for being way too aggressive. (I also skipped the works that were specific So, in my mission to read more works by women, I was beyond excited to start Adrienne Rich (especially because of Alison Bechdel's nod of approval for her - I am shameless). Maybe it was mistake to not have started with "Of Woman Born" or "Lies, Secrets and Silence" Imagine my disappointment to see the angry, irrational feminist trope come to life. Intially I skipped "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" for being way too aggressive. (I also skipped the works that were specific critiques, as I didn't know the original content.) Maybe rightly so, but I later found it is more or less a major work of hers. Oops. Glad to find that the final work in this collection ("Notes toward a Politics of Location") admits it was too narrow-minded. That is the Adrienne Rich I like, the one who is questioning and unsure, but articulates exactly what we are trying to work out. In that way, her work feels ahead of her time and certainly improves over the years. The essays I most enjoyed were the ones working through her Jewish identity (plus what it means to a WOMAN and FEMINIST and JEWISH and LESBIAN), particularly "Split At the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity." Her insights were fresh to me - how does a Jewish person operate in the world where one not only faces stupid jokes, or must face the reality of the Holocaust, but has to construct an identity from this isolated information (especially with parents that would rather avoid it!) One could pile this information, plus knowing she was married with children, and this understandably puts her in a strange insider/outsider position with all the benefits of living both lives - one of being "white," one of Jewish; one of heterosexual, one of homosexual; one of passive, the other radical feminism. Her meditations on identity as both important and restricting are my favorite part above all. Above all, Adrienne Rich has a way with words that I thoroughly enjoy. I found myself copying whole sections onto paper. For example: “As we all do when young and searching for what we can't name yet, I took what I could use where I could find it. When the ideas or forms we need are banished, we seek their residues wherever we can trace them. But there was a major problem with this. I had been born a woman, and I was trying to think and act as if poetry – and the possibility of making poems – were a universal – a gender-neutral – realm.” (175) While some of her insights may now feel ingrained into feminism, I think there is definitely a place for Adrienne Rich's work now.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Klelly

    I'm not going to read all of this, but I pulled some good snippets from it. Saw this at emilys while house-sitting, a day after finding a book of her earlier prose in the bookshelf outside my door. "I have come to wonder if guilt, with its connotations of being emotionally overwhelmed and bullied, or paralyzed, is not more a form of defensive resentment or self-protection than an authentic response to the past and its warts. Guilt does not move, guilt does not look you in the eye, guilt does not I'm not going to read all of this, but I pulled some good snippets from it. Saw this at emilys while house-sitting, a day after finding a book of her earlier prose in the bookshelf outside my door. "I have come to wonder if guilt, with its connotations of being emotionally overwhelmed and bullied, or paralyzed, is not more a form of defensive resentment or self-protection than an authentic response to the past and its warts. Guilt does not move, guilt does not look you in the eye, guilt does not speak a personal language." "Even in the struggle against free-floating abstraction, we have abstracted. Marxists and radical feminists have both done this. Why not admit it, get it said, so we can get on to the work to be done, back down to earth again? The faceless, sexless, raceless proletariat. The faceless, raceless, classless category of "all women." Both creations of white Western self-centeredness. "It was in the writings but also the actions and speeches and sermons of Black United States citizens that I began to experience the meaning of my whiteness as a point of location for which I needed to take responsibility. It was in reading poems by contemporary Cuban women that I began to experience the meaning of North America as a location which had also shaped my ways of seeing and my ideas of who and what was important, a location for which I was also responsible."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    a wonderful pleasant surprise, and a historicizing reminder that writing off this instance of what we perceive now as “second wave” work is an intellectual and political loss. rich writes lovely assertions of poetry and history situated in an unflinching examination of identity. her analysis of tracing honoring and centering the intellectual lineage of women of color as well as self-critique and awareness of the framework then known as simultaneity, i find instructive in terms of how to be a a wonderful pleasant surprise, and a historicizing reminder that writing off this instance of what we perceive now as “second wave” work is an intellectual and political loss. rich writes lovely assertions of poetry and history situated in an unflinching examination of identity. her analysis of tracing honoring and centering the intellectual lineage of women of color as well as self-critique and awareness of the framework then known as simultaneity, i find instructive in terms of how to be a white woman who writes about race without claiming expertise or staking claim over the work of others. she’s not perfect, instead she lets us in on her trying.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    good book of essays. it was interesting how a lot of these essays were a call to look at history through a more feminist vantage point. super necessary if we are to see reality more clearly as it is now. i was especially interested in the essay that reviewed elizabeth bishop's complete poems. i had found most of bishop's poems dense to the point of impenetrability. rich pointed out that, by looking at her life and viewing her poems from framework, looking at her work through a more queer vantage good book of essays. it was interesting how a lot of these essays were a call to look at history through a more feminist vantage point. super necessary if we are to see reality more clearly as it is now. i was especially interested in the essay that reviewed elizabeth bishop's complete poems. i had found most of bishop's poems dense to the point of impenetrability. rich pointed out that, by looking at her life and viewing her poems from framework, looking at her work through a more queer vantage point, and considering that it often dealt with issues of race in brazil...we can start to get a lot more grounding to explore. looking forward to taking a new look at bishop with all this in mind. i'd totally recommend that essay to anyone who's had trouble with bishop but suspects she was saying something important.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Korri

    I remember reading 'Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence' in high school as part of an english class assignment to synthesize gay & lesbian theory and how it could be applied to literature. Rich's essay wasn't a seismic event in my imagination or identity that day, but, looking back, I can trace a slight shift in the tectonic plates underlying my perception of the world. Yesterday I read that essay and the others in Blood, Bread and Poetry on Governors Island. I wish I knew how to I remember reading 'Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence' in high school as part of an english class assignment to synthesize gay & lesbian theory and how it could be applied to literature. Rich's essay wasn't a seismic event in my imagination or identity that day, but, looking back, I can trace a slight shift in the tectonic plates underlying my perception of the world. Yesterday I read that essay and the others in Blood, Bread and Poetry on Governors Island. I wish I knew how to be as articulate, critical and compassionate about my political and personal convictions. Rich is so generous in her writings, not bitter. It's as if she's found a way to put into practice Audre Lorde's essay 'The Uses of Anger'. I need to figure out that secret for myself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Li

    Too dated to be life-changing, but still relevant enough to be a worthwhile read. Rich is stoic in tone, respectful of history. She is undeniably fair in her concerns and the way in which she considers them. I thought her prose was dull at times - ironically, for the refined level of accuracy - as if her awareness of the complexities within systems of power made her weary of saying anything problematic.

  8. 5 out of 5

    H

    This was a formative book for me in my study of poetry and how it can intersect with activism and politics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Reading Rich is a balm and a goad in these post-election times.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    For a while I took a break from more sociological books after finishing my uni degree, but something called me to pick this up from my shelf and I’m so glad that it did, because it reminded me why I’m so passionate about these topics to begin with. Not only are Rich’s ideas incredible (and often revolutionary), but her writing is some of the most eloquent and poetic I’ve ever read in academia (she is, after all, a poet at her core). She is one of my absolute favourite feminist writers and I’d For a while I took a break from more sociological books after finishing my uni degree, but something called me to pick this up from my shelf and I’m so glad that it did, because it reminded me why I’m so passionate about these topics to begin with. Not only are Rich’s ideas incredible (and often revolutionary), but her writing is some of the most eloquent and poetic I’ve ever read in academia (she is, after all, a poet at her core). She is one of my absolute favourite feminist writers and I’d recommend her essays to everyone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Lynne

    I have skirted around Adrienne's work for a while, knowing it would be good, wanting to give it my full attention, but when I finally sat down to this one, it bowled me over. One of the top 5 essay collections I've read. 10/10 recommend.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Xavier Roelens

    Goed dat er ook poëticale essays in staan. In de feministische zit er meer redundantie, omdat haar standpunt hevig verdedigd moest worden. De vertaling had vlotter gekund.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Joakimson

    No matter how narrowly I winnow my book collection down from move to move, this book comes with me everywhere. My battered copy has been with me since 2002 and I still love it and come back to it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily K.

    I read this book as a supplement for my final research paper on Adrienne Rich's poem, "Revolution In Permanence (1953, 1993)." I knew that there was a plethora of biographical information and critical essays about Adrienne Rich's works, and I figured that using one of her works would be valuable for my essay. My main goal was to use her biographical essay, "Split At The Root" to find information about her journey of finding her Jewish identity, but I ended up reading the whole thing. Rich is I read this book as a supplement for my final research paper on Adrienne Rich's poem, "Revolution In Permanence (1953, 1993)." I knew that there was a plethora of biographical information and critical essays about Adrienne Rich's works, and I figured that using one of her works would be valuable for my essay. My main goal was to use her biographical essay, "Split At The Root" to find information about her journey of finding her Jewish identity, but I ended up reading the whole thing. Rich is known for her outspoken sociopolitical views and activism, and that definitely shows through her essays. Some might think her tone is too preachy, but I connected to what she wrote, even though I'm not lesbian, neither am I Jewish. But a lot of what she writes about is still relevant today. A lot of the essays made me think. This is not a passive read. Rich wants you to engage in not only her writing, but in the world that we live in, and to think critically about what is the compulsory default placed upon us.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Vagnetti

    Mostly transcripts of Reagan-era speeches, this is very strict shoving of an unbalanced scale into the reader's lap. A lot spills, and you have to figure it out. The discussion of "tokenism," especially, will be unforgettable, as will the concept of the lesbian continuum (and the epistolary exchange with other leaders that is included here about it.) Night terrors, day terrors: there are calls for "exhaustive accounts" of where power lies, and its "great unacknowledged reality." To reintegrate Mostly transcripts of Reagan-era speeches, this is very strict shoving of an unbalanced scale into the reader's lap. A lot spills, and you have to figure it out. The discussion of "tokenism," especially, will be unforgettable, as will the concept of the lesbian continuum (and the epistolary exchange with other leaders that is included here about it.) Night terrors, day terrors: there are calls for "exhaustive accounts" of where power lies, and its "great unacknowledged reality." To reintegrate power with love: how could this ever be accomplished? Still, there is little poetry, either as a subject or as a style of speaking, and one wonders: how much more powerful could these arguments have been with a different attack?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ярослава

    Друга хвиля така друга хвиля - з одного боку, я захоплююся відвагою другої хвилі (і зокрема Річ), а з іншого, саме ця добірка, мені здається, поза своїм часом дає мало. Дуже часто саме зауваги другої хвилі на часі в українському контексті (модерність, як пам'ятаємо, розподілена нерівномірно), але не у цьому випадку. Крім того - це вже моя паранойя - я не певна, чи зможу будь-коли читати тексти американських радикалів, не питаючи: на чиєму боці вони були б, якби писали про становище в Україні? І, Друга хвиля така друга хвиля - з одного боку, я захоплююся відвагою другої хвилі (і зокрема Річ), а з іншого, саме ця добірка, мені здається, поза своїм часом дає мало. Дуже часто саме зауваги другої хвилі на часі в українському контексті (модерність, як пам'ятаємо, розподілена нерівномірно), але не у цьому випадку. Крім того - це вже моя паранойя - я не певна, чи зможу будь-коли читати тексти американських радикалів, не питаючи: на чиєму боці вони були б, якби писали про становище в Україні? І, боюся, їм не довірятиму.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denise Ervin

    This collection of essays by one of the foremost feminist voices of a generation cover a wide variety of topics. From everything including Rich's thoughts on the authenticity of Lorraine Hansberry's writing to the cathartic expression of what it is like to be Jewish, lesbian, and woman at the same time, the author pulls no punches with her thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It is no wonder that she has been able to use her popularity as a platform to speak out on the ills of society. Anyone who This collection of essays by one of the foremost feminist voices of a generation cover a wide variety of topics. From everything including Rich's thoughts on the authenticity of Lorraine Hansberry's writing to the cathartic expression of what it is like to be Jewish, lesbian, and woman at the same time, the author pulls no punches with her thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It is no wonder that she has been able to use her popularity as a platform to speak out on the ills of society. Anyone who reads this work will undoubtedly be changed by it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    definitely became one of my favorite books. She has such a beautiful, precise way of thinking and organizing her thoughts. it is almost frightening how relevant these essays still are today. Her ideas on compulsory heterosexuality and US-centered white feminism are still groundbreaking today. She opened my mind to ways of thinking I hadn't considered. the whole book was a euphoric learning experience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    The finding of Judith Shakespeare

    La compilación me parece arbitraria. Se alternan grandes textos como el ya clásico "Heterosexualidad obligatoria y existencia lesbiana", "Resistiéndose a la amnesia: historia y existencia individual", que tiene pasajes brillantes, o el que da título a esta antología, con breves discursos menores, o de interés limitado. Con todo, Rich es de las grandes e introducirse en su pensamiento resulta muy enriquecedor.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krestan

    Read a selection of this book for my WGSS 101 class- definitely want to get to the whole book at some point

  21. 5 out of 5

    girrl

    Have felt betrayals of dull silence. *sharpened by loneliness

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    lesbian feminism

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    one of my fav feminnist books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    My favorite volume of Adrienne Rich's prose.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lacey Skorepa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Madeline Moss

  28. 4 out of 5

    James

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christine

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