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Rich, Adrienne (1929–)

Rich, Adrienne (1929–)

American poet and feminist. Born Adrienne Cecile Rich in Baltimore, Maryland, May 16, 1929; dau. of Dr. Arnold Rice Rich (professor of pathology) and Helen Jones Rich (composer and pianist); graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, 1951; m. Alfred Haskell Conrad (economist at Harvard), 1953 (committed suicide 1970); lived with Michelle Cliff (1976–); children: David (b. 1955); Paul (b. 1957); Jacob (b. 1959).

One of modern-day America's most distinguished and influential poets and feminist theorists, published 1st vol. of verse, A Change of World, in Yale Younger Poets Series (1951); published 2nd vol. of poetry, The Diamond Cutters (1955), followed by Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963); began to change both style and content of work, revealing her conversion to an increasingly radical feminism; published 2 subsequent vols. of poetry (1960s), reflecting the social and political turmoil engendered by both the civil-rights movement and the war in Vietnam; moved to NY (1966); while teaching part-time at several colleges and universities and raising sons alone, continued to write poetry, receiving National Book Award (1974) for Diving into the Wreck; came out as a lesbian in Twenty-One Love Poems (1976); published 1st prose work Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976); entered a long-term relationship with Jamaican-born writer and editor Michelle Cliff (1976); moved to Santa Cruz, California, with Cliff (1984), where both women continue to write about, and in support of, the outsiders and the oppressed; has long sought, in her writings and in her life, alternatives to patriarchal capitalism, which system she believes is not just anti-woman, but anti-human at its core, and destructive of the environment. Writings include Ariadne: A Play in Three Acts and Poems (1939), Not I, But Death, A Play in One Act (1941), Necessities of Life: Poems, 1962–1965 (1966), The Will to Change (1971), The Dream of a Common Language: Poems, 1974–1977 (1978), On Lies, Secrets, and Silence (1979), A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far: Poems, 1978–1981 (1981), The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950–1984 (1984), Blood, Bread, and Poetry (1986), Time's Power: Poems 1985–1988 (1989), What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (1993), Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems, 1991–1995 (1995), Midnight Salvage: Poems, 1995–1998 (1999), and (essays) Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations (2001).

See also Women in World History.

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