Adrienne Rich (1929 - 2012)

Cover Art: Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne RichOnce Adrienne Rich got the pretty (though pointed) rhyming verse out of her system (and she did that early--her first book was published when she was still at Radcliffe) Adrienne Rich constructed a voice for herself that was equal parts lyric brilliance, surgically precise language, and undiluted rage. To call her a feminist poet, while probably accurate, diminishes her project. Yes, the overarching issue of her writing, perhaps its sole impetus, was the struggle to carve out a place for women in society and as such she can be seen as a political/activist poet, few if any of her poems can be read as merely political statements.

They are slipperier and more complex than that. She was not arguing so much for equality for women (though that was a part of it) as she was seeking a definition of womanhood that did not depend on an oppositional, yin/yang relationship to male identity--something complete in and of itself.

Whether or not she succeeded is not for me to say, though I would argue she has come as close as anyone has. Probably more importantly, it seems she arrived at an understanding that satisfied her own needs and she spent a good deal of her career exploring, building upon and sharing it with the rest of us.

Poetry

Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems, 1988-1991 Cover Art: Midnight Salvage by Adrienne Rich
Voice of the Poet Series: Adrienne Rich [CD]
Collected Early Poems, 1950-1970
Diving into the Wreck: Poems, 1971-1972
The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems, 1950-2001
Fox: Poems, 1998-2000
Midnight Salvage: Poems, 1995-1998
Poems from the Women’s Movement / edited by Honor Moore
Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems, 2004-2006
Time’s Power: Poems, 1985-1988
Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems, 2007-2010 Cover Art: Poetry from the Women's Movement
Your Native Land, Your Life: Poems

Prose 

Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose: Poems, Prose, Reviews and Criticism / Selected and edited by Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi and Albert Gelpi
Blood, Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985
 

New York Times Obituary, March 28, 2012