Cover image for Midnight salvage : poems, 1995-1998
Midnight salvage : poems, 1995-1998
Rich, Adrienne, 1929-2012.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [1999]

Physical Description:
vii, 75 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3535.I233 M5 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"Look: with all my fear I'm here with you, trying what it means, to stand fast; what it means to move." In these astonishing new poems, Adrienne Rich dares to look and to extend her poetic language as witness to the treasures--the midnight salvage--we rescue from fear and fragmentation. Rich's work has long challenged social plausibilities built on violence and demoralizing power. In Midnight Salvage, she continues her explorations at the end of the century, trying, as she has said, "to face the terrible with hope, in language as complex as necessary, as communicative as possible--a poetics which can work as antidote to complacency, self-involvement, and despair. I have wanted to assume a theater of voices rather than the restricted I. To write for both readers I know exist and those I can only imagine, finding their own salvaged beauty as I have found mine." "In her vision of warning and her celebration of life, Adrienne Rich is the Blake of American letters."--Nadine Gordimer

Author Notes

Adrienne Cecile Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland on May 16, 1929. In 1951 she graduated from Radcliffe College and was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize by W.H. Auden. She began teaching for City College of New York in 1968, and was also a lecturer and adjunct professor at Swarthmore College and Columbia University School of the Arts. She taught in CUNY's basic writing program during the early 1970s.

In the 1970s, she started to be active in the women's liberation movement. Her work has been characterized as confrontational, treating women's role in society, racism, and the Vietnam War. In addition to many collections of poetry, she has also written several books of nonfiction prose, such as Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations, What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, and Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. Her last poetry collection was entitled Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010.

She has won numerous literary awards, including the 1986 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1992 Poets' Prize, the 1997 Wallace Stevens Award of the Academy of American Poets, the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, and the 2006 National Book Foundation Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She has also received the Bollingen Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

In 1974, she refused to receive as an individual the National Book Award for Poetry, instead accepting it on behalf of all silenced women. She also refused the National Medal of Arts in 1997, stating that "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." In 2012, she won the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Poetry Prize. She died from long-term rheumatoid arthritis on March 27, 2012.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Rich's poems have always been as complex, polished, and subtly kinetic as a pebble beach, singing with the force of waves and wind, and her newest book is even more potent and startlingly beautiful than what has gone before, as though Rich has descended into the molten core of the planet and the center of our tormented soul. She sees the earth as inlaid with bones, saturated with the salty fluids of the flesh and the heart, and haloed with the prayers of memory. Her language is incandescent, and her musings encompass all time and all people, infinite suffering and blessed liberation. She ponders the tension between our devotion to beauty and intimacy with brutality, writing of people who dwelled both in the magic of art and in the harsh arena of war, including the revolutionary photographer Tina Modotti and the poet and Resistance fighter ReneChar. And in every poem, Rich holds us to the flame of her compassion and to the glint of her sharp vision of the terrible glory that is life. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rich's tough, impressive, earnest new volume‘her 17th book of poems‘concentrates on Rich's past selves and their varied goals and causes. Her well-known, fiercely held political ideals‘her commitments to economic justice, feminism and gay liberation‘manifest themselves, now, in her sense of passing the torch, of trying to show the readers and writers who will come after her what she has learned and how she learned it. Her juxtaposed fragments, self-questionings and self-interruptions, and taut, Anglo-Saxonate verse lines, let her sound accessible, democratic, inspiring, while making us work to discover her poems' formal secrets. Most of the poems are sequences. "Plaza Street and Flatbush" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" explore Brooklyn and Manhattan through the eyes and in the voices of Rich's ancestors and culture-heroes: Paul Goodman, Julia de Burgos, Hart Crane. The superbly bizarre, self-interrogating triptych "Seven Skins" runs through figures amazing to Rich's college-age self, while the more ambitious, eight-section "Midnight Salvage" sorts through bits and images from Rich's past, from the moon between Monterey pines, through memories of Rome (frustrating) and Rich's solidarity with other activists "when I ate and drank liberation," to the risks of polluted food. She continues to blur the boundaries between public slogan-forging and private self-searching: "Old walls the pride of architects collapsing/ find us in crazed niches sleeping like foxes/ we wanters we unwanted we/ wanted for the crime of being ourselves." Rich's admirers will recognize the complex symbiosis, here as in her other recent works, between the activist and the maker of new language, each propelling, describing, provoking the other's words. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Rich's latest collection cuts another notch in the tree of 20th-century history and marks its place on the path toward a poetics of social responsibility. A montage of wordplay and direct historical reference (with endnotes) conveys the necessity for patienceÄ"horrible patience which is part of the work...which waits for language, for meaning" and freedom of expression. The book amplifies the message we have seen in Rich's work for nearly 50 years. She masterfully presents "all kinds of language" in tone and in content, incorporating the ideas of Blake, Mandelstam, Marx, and Nixon (among others) into a medley setting forth the imperative that historical events be synthesized and expressed in poetry. What she describes as "a theater of voices rather than the restrictive I" is a movement of perspective within the poems and throughout the book. The result is a musical text that is liberating in content and in form.ÄAnn K. van Buren, New York University (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.