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March 01, 1987|Holly Prado

BLOOD, BREAD, AND POETRY by Adrienne Rich (Norton: $15.95, hardcover; $7.95, paperback; 238 pp.). Adrienne Rich's is the basic radical-feminist assumption: All women are dangerously repressed by all dominant, white-male power structures. Those who wholeheartedly agree with her political stance will find this book of essays a source of strength. Others, not so sure, will discover provocative issues raised; will appreciate the solid prose, informed intelligence and personal style of t1751457911that any such one-sided view is questionable. "Blood, Bread, and Poetry" offers a series of tough-minded pieces that expand on the ideas present in Rich's widely respected poetry. To consider this book along with the poems is to gain an enlarged understanding of her loyalties to those she champions as outsiders--primarily lesbians and women of color--whom she urges to active commitment in the fight against injustice. The most striking essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience," is undeniably powerful, but although Rich insists she isn't a separatist, her vision of liberation damns much more than it accepts. A perspective that sees all non-feminist history as deliberately focused on denying women a place in the world makes for reading that is, ultimately, too limited to be truly liberating.

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