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Poet, feminist and intellectual Adrienne Rich has died | 29-Mar-12

Adrienne Rich died on Tuesday 27 March, 2012, at her home in Santa Cruz, California. She was 82.

Poet, essayist and intellectual Adrienne Rich died on Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was 82. The cause was complications of rheumatoid arthritis, with which she had lived for most of her adult life, her family said.

Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed and widely taught, Ms. Rich was for decades among the most influential writers of the feminist movement and one of the best-known American public intellectuals. She wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose; the poetry alone has sold nearly 800,000 copies, according to W. W. Norton & Company, her publisher since the mid-1960s.

Read the full obituary from the New York Times and one from the Guardian.

Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich was one of America's foremost public intellectuals. Widely read and hugely influential, Rich's career spanned seven decades and has hewed closely to the story of post-war American poetry itself.  A Change of World (1951) won the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Award.  Rich's collection Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 (1973) won the National Book Award; Rich, however, accepted it with fellow-nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker on behalf of all women. A noted writer of prose, Rich's numerous essay collections, including A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society (2009) also secured her place as one of America's preeminent feminist thinkers. In addition to the National Book Award, Rich received numerous awards and commendations for her work, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and a MacArthur "Genius" Award. She made headlines in 1997 when she refused the National Medal of Arts for political reasons. "I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House," she wrote in a letter published in the New York Times "because the very meaning of art as I understand it is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration."
 
Rich's prose collections are widely-acclaimed for their erudite, lucid, and poetic treatment of politics, feminism, history, racism and many other topics. On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978 (1979), furthers her feminist aesthetic and contains one of Rich's most-noted essays, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision," in which Rich clarifies the need for female self-definition. Publishing a new collection every few years, in 2009 Rich released A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society. Rich again explored the intersection of poetry and the political in essays and reviews.

Through over sixty years of public introspection and examination of society and self, Adrienne Rich has chronicled her journey in poetry and prose. "I began as an American optimist," she commented in Credo of a Passionate Skeptic, "albeit a critical one, formed by our racial legacy and by the Vietnam War...I became an American Skeptic, not as to the long search for justice and dignity, which is part of all human history, but in the light of my nation's leading role in demoralizing and destabilizing that search, here at home and around the world. Perhaps just such a passionate skepticism, neither cynical nor nihilistic, is the ground for continuing."

To read more: Poetry Foundation

and USA Today  

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