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January 30, 1977 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1977-01-30

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Sunday, January 30, 1977


Page Five

Sunday, January 30, 1977 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five



A cor
1975 by Diane di Prima, North
Atlantic Books, 345 pages,
Robin M o r g a n, Random
House, 131 pages, $3.95
Marge Piercy, A I f r e d A.
Knopf, 108 pages, $3.95
NEW, 19C0-194 by, Adrienne
Rich, Norton, 256 pages, $4.50
Feminist noetry has come of
age, as these for reent mnb-
lintios demonstrate. The fame
of the forr poets is as varioM1 as
their styles: the books are a
rich arnlar of old f'vorites
and 'intriging pew ventures:
good, warm readin compan-
ions for cold winter nights.
rEFORE THE nbl"ation of
salected noenis. an di
Prima's work was oenerllb
onlv availnhle in sh'rt-lind
prirvi'als and errati-iliv 1i-
tributed. odd-sied naerhacks
Simnly in terms of ost ner
name. it is a good bv, ht
waintity is^'t its onl virt'_
the naes carry a inhvrinthbine
asortm'ent of iterest n' work.
A minor crn'tion: this book
shnold be read in small doses,
Ist one be overwhelmed by its
sheer mass.
A bit more editril organi-
zation wold be wlcome, as
would more authorial comment.
E'en with the machine gim
nresentation, it is nossible to
identify five maior creative
periods, and get elimnses of the
writer behind the verse. This
lovely, sanirmy samnle from her
earliest beat period is from the
vonme's first poem, "Thirteen
Get your cut throat off
my knife. -
One of the best phase grew4
the heroin phase, which is re-
resented here by many lovely
if enigmatic, pieces from which
an occasional lucid gem
emerges, as in this segment of'
"Blue Nirvana":
I slept alone tonight
because, basically, I am
a paean
& feel this will propitiate
Next comes what I shall call,
for want of something better, a
middle period in which many
of the poems talk about adjust-
ing to responsibility. Di Prima
is involved here in many experi-
ments in style and craft.
Revolutionary Letters is one
of di Prima's best-known works;
that volume is a fair emblem
for the fourth cluster of poems,
which are more prosaic, less
idiosyncratic, and show a mark-
ed increase in the poet's con-
cern with philosphical secula-
tion. Recommended: "To the
Unnamed Buddhist Nmn Who
Burned Herself to Death on the
Night of June 3, 1966."{
The most recent phase in' the
selected volume is character-
ized -by a confident, mature
style. Places where di Prima
has visited and lectured play a
prominent role in s, e v e r a i
poems; as well, there are mov-
ing retrospectives for friends
and colleagues. This passage is
from "Narrow Path into the

Back C o u n t r y," fdr Audre
we endure. this we are
certain of. no more.
... It is written
on the faces of our
children. Pliant,
joy; Will like mountains,
that batters yr heart &
mine. (Hear them shout)
And I will not bow out,
cannot see
your war as different.
P OBIN MORGAN is probably
better known to feminists as
an organizer and lecturer, and
to the reading public as the
editor of the giant anthology
Sisterhood is Powerful, than as
a poet. Lady of the Beasts
should change that. It is a quan-
tum leap in quality over Mon-
ster; Morgan's mind and craft!
have been much improved dur-
ing her vacation from writing
verse. Lady of the Beasts is a'
solid, stunning accomplishment.
This book is, comprised of
four sections of shorter lyrics

nuco ia of

oIdan dnewfministpoe
I health. "Make Me Feel It" is other turning an old ring Like everybody else, ve Next
about ennui and fatigue: ; . to the light thought of ourselves bee
for hours our talk has as special and'
My head is full of folded beaten de

h ?f { 4 Y ry . i'i
'hS .. }.... 'ib . e.

Her life is a fine piece of
Japanese pottery
in the Shibui style,
so crafted that to see the
cup's exterior
is to be privy only to its
dull sienna clay
and to the flavored
warmth with which you
choose to fill it.
But drained of all your
you may discover the
bowl inside-
a high-glazed hyacinth blue
that rushes to your heart
and there remains, like
an indelible message
you remember from a
fortune told in tea
leaves once,
like a wet jasmine flower
that you can never rinse
The 1 o n g e r philosophical
poems are especially admir-
able: even-handed, passionate
without b e i n g polemic, im-
mensely learned and loving.
Morgan's commitment to potent,
invocative language and an in-
dividual, sinewy syntax is im-
pressive. "The Network of the
Imaginary Mother" is the an-
notation of a journey toward
comprehension of the hidden as-
pects of the world, toward un-
derstanding mind and body and
o v e r c o m i.n g self - revulsion
Everytaing from witchcraft to
spiders to family relationships
comes in for scrutiny and evalu-
ation, yet the tone is sustained
and graceful. This fragment is
an example of a recurring chor-
us from the first section, called
"The Mother."
And this is the knowledge,
almost remembered
that chills the deepest
nightmares of us all-
the grown male children
who fear the wheel
is turned by Kali's dancing;

the grown female
children who lose
ourselves, complacent,
to only one of the Three
Aspects: Virgin, Mother,
and then deny the numinous
presence of the other Two
in any woman, in terror of
what we are becoming,
yet long for still.
The final poem of the book,
"Voices from Six Tapestries,"
is an eloquent, gorgeous, con-
vincing answer to Freud's des-
perate question, "What do wo-
men want?" The poem is an
interpretation of a late-medieval
tapestry cycle depicting a lady
and a unicorn. These are the
concluding stanzas; the lady
Unicorn, I have a mirror
in my other hand.f
Look in the glass and know
what I have always seen:
birth, initiation, consum-
mation, repose, and
the five conscious senses,
your incandescence,
and my love: these
glimpses of the mystery.
There is nothing more,
anywhere, ever,
except the myth the world
will make of us.
Here is the mirror.
Turn your gaze to what
has been my one desire
from the beginning:
that I might behold what
you beheld
beholding this,
my one desire.
Lady of the Beasts also has
a good Watergate poem.
-/ARGE PIERCY'S novels are
more widely-known than her
p o e t r y. This isaunfortunate,
since her novels are generally
interesting failures and her
verse is first-rate. Living in the
Open is her first excursion into
autobiographical w r i t i n g, as
Piercy puts it, "to a personal
book out of my life," and it is
extraordinarily good. The pro-
duction of the book adds to the
r e a d e r's pleasure: oversized
pages, spacious typography, and
nice graphics make Living in
the Open an experience for the
eyes as well as the intellect.
The book is divided into three
sequences, ararnged roughly by
topics. The first section, "A
Particular Place to be Healed,"
centers in her new rural home
in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, and
in differentiating disease and

My nerves are the bones
of smelt.
If the hearts of the
enemies of womandkind
were served on plates with
sauce vinaigrette
I would eat them and belch.
Obviously, Piercy has a singu-
lar voice and a lively, bizarre
sense of humor. Whoever said
feminists are grim obviously
didn't know any.
The middle section is called
"The Homely War," and pre-
dictably enough is concerned
with intersexual relationships
and small history lessons. "On
Castle Hill" takes place in an
antique graveyard, and recre-
ates a conversation:
Suppose, you said, she is
a ghost.
You repeated a tale from
about journeying toward
one's childhood
never arriving but
on the way many people,
all dead,
journeying toward the
land of heart's desire.
I would not walk a foot I
into my childhood,
I said, picking blackberries
for you to taste,
large, moist and sweet
as your eyes.
My land of desire is the
of the unborn. The dead
are powerless to grant us
wishes .. .
"T h e Provocation of t h e
Dream" is the concluding sec-
tion; it iterates and reiterates
the need for a different, positive
future. Inez Garcia has a place
here, as does "The Legacy":

like rain against the screens
a sense of August and
I get up, go to make tea,
come back
we look at each other
then she says (and this is
what I live through
over and over)-she says:
I do not know
if sex is an illusion
I do not know
who I was when I did
those things
or who I said I was
or whether I willed to feel
what I had read about
or who in fact was
there with me
or whether I kneel,
even then
that there was doubt
about these things

Your body is as vivid to me
as it ever was: even more
since my feeling for it is
I know what it could and
could not do
it is no longer
the body of a god
or anything with power
over my life

we t
not a
but a



year it would have
en 20 years
who are wastefully
might have made the
alked, too late, of
h I live now
as a leap
a succession of brief,
nazing movements
one making possible
e next

You cannot wa a prize
-grand enough to ransom I
your mother's youth.
The incense of those yearsj
one by one guttered out
faint light, faint heat
chokes me in your room,
smothers you as you sleep
dreaming in hand-me-downs,
while dead women's wishes
like withered confetti
snow through your head.
A DRIENNE RICH is the most
famous writer of this'group,
partly because she is prolific
and has won several prizes, and
partly because she is main-
stream enough to be accessible
to more readers. This volume is
a thesis selection centering on
her writing about women. It is
not quite true to her best work,
but it .does serve to indicate
patterns of growth. Representa-
tive pieces from each of her
earlier books are here, as, well
as some uncollected poems (that
could well have stayed that
way) and some new poems of
uneven strength.
Those who are unfamiliar with
Rich will find here a broad
sampler of her work. Two ex-
amples serve to , demonstrate
the strengths of her writing.
The first is called "Dialogue":

"From a Survivor" refers
her dead husband.


January 26-30 1977
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

The pact that we made
was the ordinary pact
of men & women in those
I don't know who we
thought we were
that our personalities
could resist the failures
of the race
Lucky or unlucky, we
didn't know
that the race had failures
of that order
and that we were going
to share them


Put the DAILY
on Your Doorstep." i

Success like an incubus
visits your bed. She sits with one hand
Nothing you do pised against her
will ever be enough. head, the

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