These are risky poems, infused with the cruelty of history, the presence of the body, the beauty of the natural world, with human love and longing. In the course of these poems, Rich invokes the poet and Resistance fighter Rene Char and the photographer and revolutionary Tina Modotti and conjures Julia de Burgos, Hart Crane, and Miles Davis in an urban underworld. Midnight Salvage is a major new work by one of the essential voices of our time.
if a woman as vivid as any artistAs we've come to expect from a writer who insists that "all kinds of language fly into poetry, like it or not" and "real acts are not simple," Rich sparks necessary epiphanies. Her Whitmanesque embrace of the silenced--the homeless woman, the drag queen, the paraplegic--forces us to question and redefine who and what poetry is for. This desire to widen art's access, to reject the "death mask / and the english cemetery all so under control and so / eternal," this refusal to play by the rules, infuses every poem. In "The Art of Translation," for instance, Rich celebrates the translator who allows access to the canon-excluded, to the poet whose work is itself an act of translation, and to any reader who speaks from the heart, "a zone that remains otherwise untranslatable."
can fling any day herself from the 14th floor
would it relieve you to decide Poetry
doesn't make this happen?
Daring in their passion to inform and incite, these poems remind us that complacency is never an option. "I wanted to go somewhere / the brain had not yet gone," she confesses in "Letters to a Young Poet." Midnight Salvage is evidence of a destination reached. --Martha Silano