cover image An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems, 1988-1991

An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems, 1988-1991

Adrienne Cecile Rich. W. W. Norton & Company, $17.95 (60pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03069-3

Rich's 13th collection of poems is mostly a free-verse montage on America's broken promises and latent possibilities (``This is the desert where missiles are planted like corms / This is the breadbasket of foreclosed farms''). The work jarringly evokes a country fissured by poverty, loneliness, oppression of women, a nation that has not met the human needs of its citizens. Fulfilling her definition of a patriot as one who ``wrestles for the soul of her country as she wrestles for her own being,'' Rich mingles the personal and political in forthright meditations on the world's anguish and beauty. Intermittently rising to powerful moments, this tapestry of the world's disenfranchised and downtrodden fails to coalesce into a unified whole. (Oct.)