Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

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How often, among literature lovers, are poems from Adrienne Rich's The Dream of a Common Language quoted? ("I choose not to suffer uselessly // ...I choose to love this time for once / with all my intelligence," from "Splittings.") This collection, especially the middle sequence, "Twenty-One Love Poems," contains some of the most beautiful and arresting love poetry written this century. Adrienne Rich is a feminist giant, and these poems, written in 1974, map and delineate the territory of women's love for women (sexual and otherwise) and the struggle of selfhood, consciousness, history, and art with strength, creativity, and fierce empathy. Even if you think you're not a fan of poetry, Rich's work — her "common language" — will move you.  Jill O.