When it first appeared in 1971, Margaret Atwood’s Power Politics startled readers with its vital dance of woman and man. It still startles today, and is just as iconoclastic as ever.
These poems occupy all at once the intimate, the political, and the mythic. Here Atwood makes us realize that we may think our own personal dichotomies are unique, but really they are multiple, universal. Clear, direct, wry, and unrelenting — Atwood’s poetic powers are honed to perfection in this seminal work from her early career.
MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. Her latest novel, The Testaments, is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series. Her other works of fiction include Cat’s Eye, finalist for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; The MaddAddam Trilogy; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. She lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.
“Margaret Atwood’s Power Politics is a true sequence, a death-struggle between man and woman . . . This book, to those who take it straight, moves almost unwillingly, but relentlessly, through a brilliant schema of unflagging suspense and pitches of drama . . . Atwood’s poems are short, glistening with terse bright images, un-tentative, closing like a vise. These are all formed perfections.” — New York Times (August 1973)
“Twenty-five years after its initial publication, Power Politics remains a path-breaking lyric utterance on sexual politics and human survival, unflinching in its emotional honesty. Beyond truth, Atwood writes, tenacity . . . and no poet has proven more prescient or more courageous in this pursuit. The reappearance of this work is an occasion to be celebrated.” — Carolyn Forché
“The pleasure of reading these poems today is not only in realizing the longevity of their power — the sting is still there — but in experiencing them anew in the light of the poetry and fiction written in the twenty-five years since.” — Linda Hutcheon
“In a century shaken by gender politics, these seminal poems remind us of the deepest kind of change. Love is the real power, demanding — and offering — no less than the transformation of self. Atwood dares to imagine realpolitik at the heart of love’s mystery. It is a measure of her achievement that, over decades, these masterful poems continue to speak with undiminished accuracy.” — Anne Michaels
“Astonishing, notorious, a classic — Power Politics, twenty-five years after its first publication, still negotiates with awesome presence of mind the definitions of heterosexual eros: hook and eye; fact and weapon; truth and brutality. Atwood’s terse, unsparing, and often comically incisive lines are a guided tour of the knotted Laingian underworld of a love affair. The poems are inspired and fluent. Read them and shiver.” — Sharon Thesen
“Brilliant precisionist and angry lover, Margaret Atwood performs an autopsy on a love affair that’s dead but won’t lie down. I feel again the thrill and shock I experienced on first reading these ruthless and moving poems. Power Politics changed the definition of the love poem, the long poem, and, I believe, the course of Canadian poetry. It cuts like a laser beam. It goes beyond sexual politics into the dark heart of a tottering global village.” — Phyllis Webb