2011 National Book Award Finalist,

Adrienne Rich

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010

W.W. Norton & Company

Adrienne Rich


Partings and reconciliations, solidarities and ruptures, trust and betrayal, exposure and withdrawal, are the deep fabric of this book. How to “imagine social presence” under enforced isolation, aggressive authority, ancient and present wards, public disorder, or subterranean alliances? Compressed lyrics (“Turbulence,” “Don’t Flinch,” “Emergency Clinic,”), like the title poem, flash among larger scenarios where images, dialogues, blues, and ballads spiral into visions: dissenting, utopian, erotic, unillusioned, history-laden. In “Scenes of Negotiation,” in the intimate address of “Axel Avákar,” in the black humor of “Quarto,” in the underground journey of “Powers of Recuperation,” the poems accumulate through individual and social emergencies and responses.

Adrienne Rich has said, “I believe almost everything I know, have come to understand, is somewhere in this book.”


Adrienne Rich has published sixteen previous volumes of poetry, including, Diving into the Wreck, which won the National Book Award in 1974; The Dream of a Common Language; The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001; An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991; Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995; Midnight Salvage; Fox; The School Among the Ruins; and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth.  She has also authored five books of nonfiction prose, including Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, Arts of the Possible: Essays & Conversations, and A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society. She is the recipient of many honors, including the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which was awarded in 2006.



Rich's 2006 Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Acceptance Speech