- RICH, ADRIENNE
- RICH, ADRIENNE (1929– ), U.S. poet. Rich was the daughter of a Jewish father who distanced himself from Judaism, and a gentile mother. Her Jewishness, and her response to it, inform much of the poignancy of her poems about claiming a heritage. No less importantly, her poetry is often bound up with her father, patriarchal authority, and her lesbianism. A revolt against, as well as a feminist reading of, a Judaism that is male-dominated, gives Rich's poetry a characteristic strength, compassion, and large embrace. In "Yom Kippur 1984," she reflects: "Am I writing merely about privilege/ about drifting from the center, drawn to edges.…" Rich, often writing about the shared experiences of females and about historical women, began her career with tightly controlled poetry which brought her early recognition by critics and other poets. Her first book of verse, A Change of World (1951), was chosen by W.H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Award; a Guggenheim Fellowship followed (1952–53). The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems (1955) won the Ridgely Torrence Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America. She was also awarded the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry (1960); another Guggenheim Fellowship (1961–62); and a Bollingen Foundation grant for translation of Dutch poetry (1962). In 1994, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Rich married an economist, had three sons, and served as Phi Beta Kappa poet at William and Mary College, at Swarthmore College, and at Harvard College. After Rich and her family moved to New York City in 1966, she grew active in protests against the war in Vietnam. Rich's poetry became radicalized as well, moving away from the precise blank verse that had been her trademark to freer meters. Leaflets (1969) expressed her new conviction that the goal of poetry should be to illuminate the moment, rather than to be worked over for posterity. In 1970 Rich's husband died and she became increasingly involved in the radical feminist movement. She won the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America in 1971 and served as the Fanny Hurst Visiting Professor of Creative Literature at Brandeis University in 1972–73. When she was awarded a National Book Award for her 1973 book of verse, Diving into the Wreck, she refused to accept the award as an individual, and instead accepted it in the name of all women. Her books of poetry include Poems: Selected and New (1975) and A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far (1981). Of special interest is Rich's volume of poetry Your Native Land, Your Life (1986) which speaks about her Jewish identity. Her An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988–1991 was published in 1991; her Collected Early Poems, 1950–1970 in 1993; The School Among the Ruins: Poems, 2000–2004 in 2004. She has written several volumes of essays, among them On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1996–1978 (1979); Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979–1985 (1986); and What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (1993). -ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.R. Cooper (ed.), Reading Adrienne Rich: Reviews and Re-visions, 1951–81 (1984), J. Perrault, Writing Selves: Contemporary Feminist Autobiography (1995); A. Templeton, The Dream and the Dialogue: Adrienne Rich's Feminist Poetics (1994). (Sylvia Barack Fishman / Lewis Fried (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.