Volume 21, Number 1
2007 Anti-War Protests
Readers & writers
Left Electoral Campaign
Venezuela Referendum Lessons
Darfur PR Scam?
Homegrown Terrorism Act Factsheet
Center for constitutional rights
Wisconsin books to prisoners
Review: "The Bubble"
Words of Choice
Eleanor J. Bader
We Own The World
Largely About Oil
Trade & Ghana
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Review: "Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth"
Adrienne Rich; 2007, W.W. Norton, 112 pp.
Adrienne Rich’s book Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth is the latest dispatch from a great American poet who struggles to write moving human speech and penetrating thought in a dehumanizing market- dominated era. As a result poetry is “contraband,” says Rich in her 1998 book Midnight Salvage. Yet poetry also is a genre able to combine the grammar of logic with the poetic expression of emotion. Since the 1960s Rich has used her poetry to address the struggle of people to love, think, and make a living in the evolving social and political worlds. Since her important 1991 book An Atlas of the Difficult World, her poetry increasingly has used a fragmented writing style—torn from previously held solutions—to explore daily life as well as ideals.
Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth, written between 2004 and 2006, offers poems about the flooding of New Orleans, the legacy of the 1960s, the use of prosthetic limbs by a veteran, Antonio Gramsci, and a blues song called “Rhyme.” Her New Orleans meditation argues that a person’s action in the moment to save someone, for instance, is a more valuable indicator of character than anyone’s “theories.” Her poem on Gramsci has him noting that gangsterism among the poor as well as decadence among wealthy are equally dissatisfied reactions to a failing social system. In “Tactile Value,” Rich notes that a thinker may write about the shortcomings of market economics, but all theories will fail if they do not account for how individual people’s lives are and how powerful in their lives is sex and love:
mouth clasping mouthwhat we light with this coalspark.
Her new book contains many poems foregrounding her own intellectual search through emotional and political issues, generating fragmentary notes on conclusions along the way. Her poems take the entire democratic vista as their scope. Today that makes Rich an exception in the U.S. In contrast many American poets focus narrowly on their own emotional lives or call themselves “language poets” and focus on grammatical experiments. As a result, if historians depend on American poetry published in prestigious literary magazines from 2003-2007, they may not know about the Iraq war, the growing scarcity of quality health care, the downsizing of U.S. industrial jobs, or many of the other social changes affecting Americans.
Rich brings intellectual research into her poetry, along with a strong lyric voice to inflect her work with moving emotions. This twin talent is crucial to her poetry’s success. It also aligns with her message. In the last decade Rich consistently spotlighted the essential force of caring and love needed to rehabilitate dehumanized situations. Rich, in the title poem from her 2004 book, The School Among The Ruins, writes about children living in a schoolhouse during wartime in Bosnia who come together through caring for a stray cat. On the intellectual side, her poem on Gramsci notes that, “You think you are helpless because you are empty-handed of concepts that could become your strength.”
Rich writes in fragments, a modernist who mixes voices, interweaves settings without transitions, uses punctuation creatively or not at all. This can make Rich a challenge, even for those keeping up with her work. Telephone Ringing is well worth it. Like Irish poet W. B. Yeats, Rich may have created her deepest, most rewarding poetry during the latter part of her life. In contrast to Yeats’s late perfection of intricate metrical forms and memorable phrasing, Rich has jettisoned her 1960s and 1970s methods and ideals to reckon with an evolving, conservative America with poetry marked with experimental brave ferocity and replenishing insight.
At the dawn of the 21st century in U.S. public life, the best lack all conviction and the worst are filled with passionate intensity. I am taking this phrase from W. B. Yeats, who made this observation in his poem “The Second Coming” during the 1930s. Well, Rich is both our best and most passionate.
In “Even Then Maybe” she sings —I suppose—about herself in the 60s:
No, I was not living with her
at the time
At the time I was not living
with him, at the time we were living
I was living with neither of them
—was dwelling you could say
But as for living at that time
we were all living together with
for whom living was precisely the
Haven’t seen evenings like that since
vesuvian emerald to brass dissolving
—a sentence you’d waited for
taken back half-spoken—
Luxury even then maybeevenings like those
Gregg Mosson is author of Season of Flowers and Dust (Goose River Press) and edited Poems Against War: Music & Heroes (Wasteland Press).
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.