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Adrienne Rich, in fullAdrienne Cecile Rich, (born May 16, 1929,BaltimoreMaryland, U.S.died March 27, 2012,Santa Cruz, California), American poet, scholar, teacher, and critic whose many volumes ofpoetrytrace a stylistic transformation from formal, well-crafted but imitative poetry to a more personal and powerful style.

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Rich attended Radcliffe College (B.A., 1951), and before her graduation her poetry was chosen byW.H. Audenfor publication in the Yale Younger Poets series. The resulting volume,A Change of World(1951), reflected her mastery of the formal elements of poetry and her considerable restraint.The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems(1955) was followed bySnapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 19541962(1963), published long after her earlier volumes. This third collection exhibited a change in style, a movement away from the restrained and formal to a looser, more personal form. In the mid-1950s Rich began to date her poems to give them a historicalcontext. Her fourth volume,Necessities of Life: Poems 19621965(1966), was written almost entirely infree verse.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s Richs increasing commitment to thewomens movementand to a feminist and, after openly acknowledging herhomosexuality, lesbianaestheticpoliticized much of her poetry.Leaflets: Poems 19651968(1969) includes a number of translations of poetry from other languages as well as a series of poems echoing the Middle Easternghazalgenre. Such collections asDiving into the Wreck: Poems 19711972(1973; National Book Award) andThe Dream of a Common Language: Poems 19741977(1978) express anger at the societalconceptionof womanhood and furtherarticulateRichs lesbian identity. Her later volumesA Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far: Poems 19781981(1981),An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 19881991(1991), andDark Fields of the Republic: Poems 19911995(1995) pay tribute to early feminists andadmonishthe reader to recall the lessons of history, often through the use of different voices.

In such later collections asMidnight Salvage: Poems 19951998(1999),Fox: Poems 19982000(2001), andThe School Among the Ruins: Poems 20002004(2004), Rich turned her gaze to social problems asdiverseascell phoneusage and theIraq War, using forms more elliptical and fragmented than those present in her earlier work. The poems inTelephone Ringing in the Labyrinth(2007) and inTonight No Poetry Will Serve(2011) continue to experiment with form and include more reflective passages on Richs sharp observations on the cultural climate of the day.Later Poems: Selected and New, 19712012(2012) is a posthumous sampling of heroeuvrethat includes 10 previously unpublished poems.Collected Poems: 19502012(2016) contains her entire oeuvre.

Rich also wrote several books ofcriticism.Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution(1976) combines scholarly research with personal reflections on being a mother, whileOn Lies, Secrets, and Silence(1979) traces history through musings on Richs own various incarnations. InBlood, Bread, and Poetry(1986),What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics(1993),Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations(2001), andA Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 19972008(2009), Rich addressed many of the problems plaguing humanity, as well as the role of her art form in addressing them.

Rich turned down the National Medal of the Arts in 1997, publicly claiming that the politics of theBill Clintonadministration conflicted with her ideas about art. She was awarded theBollingen Prizein 2003. Rich taught at numerous universities across theUnited States, includingStanfordandCornell.

This article was most recently revised and updated byRichard Pallardy, Research Editor.

American literature: Autobiographical approaches

s work gained a burning immediacy from her lesbian feminism.

(1973) were turning points for womens poetry in the wake of the 1960s.

spoke of a lesbian continuum and sought to expand the meaning of lesbianism and include a range of ways in which women experience intimacy and community.

and Robert Hass, and she credited Rich as being the inspiration for her to address social issues from a personal position by devising a creative strategy to merge the historical, the current moment and the emotional landscape of the speaker.

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The Poetry Center at Smith College – Biography of Adrienne Rich

Poetry Foundation – Biography of Adrienne Rich

The Poetry Archive – Biography of Adrienne Rich

Jewish Womens Archive – Biography of Adrienne Cecile Rich

Academy of American Poets – Biography of Adrienne Rich

Modern American Poets – Biography of Adrienne Rich

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Adrienne Rich – Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up)

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