Feminist poet Adrienne Rich dies at 82
Poet Adrienne Rich, whose socially conscious verse affected a generation of feminist, gay rights and anti-war activists, has died. She was 82. Rich died on Tuesday at home from problems from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.
Through her writing, Adrienne Rich explored topics such as women’s rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.
Adrienne Rich released more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems Diving into the Wreck in 1974. In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection The School Among the Ruins. According to her publisher, WW Norton, her books have sold between 750,000 and 800,000 copies, a high amount for a poet.
She gained national prominence with her third poetry collection, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law, in 1963. Citing the title poem, University of Maryland professor Rudd Fleming wrote in The Washington Post that Adrienne Rich “proves poetically how hard it is to be a woman – a member of the second sex.”
Adrienne Rich and her husband had three sons before she left him in 1970, just as the women’s activity was exploding on the national scene. She used her experiences as a mom to write Of Woman Born, her groundbreaking feminist critique of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, published in 1976.
Unlike most American writers, Adrienne Rich believed that art and politics not only could co-exist, but must co-exist. She considered herself a socialist because “socialism represents moral value – the dignity and human rights of all citizens,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005. “That is, the resources of a society should be shared and the wealth redistributed as widely as possible.”