Adrienne Rich, one of the most acclaimed figures of contemporary poetry, died on Tuesday. Rich’s diverse body of work spanned the course of decades, ranging from the relatively formal verse of early works such as A Change of World (which won the Yale Younger Poets Award for 1951) to the politically-charged poetry and prose of her later career.
Over the course of her career, Rich wrote over 20 books of poetry, in addition to prose works dealing with feminism and political life. Some of her most acclaimed works include Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law, Diving into the Wreck (with its famous title poem), The School Among the Ruins, the essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” and Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. Rich’s most recent work was last year’s collection Tonight No Poetry Will Serve. UIUC’s Libraries hold many works by Rich as well as criticism dealing with her work.
Poetry has the capacity to remind us of something we are forbidden to see. A forgotten future: a still uncreated site whose moral architecture is founded not on ownership and dispossession, the subjection of women, outcast and tribe, but on the continuous redefining of freedom – that word now held under house arrest by the rhetoric of the “free” market. This on-going future, written-off over and over, is still within view. All over the world its paths are being rediscovered and reinvented.
Some other resources on Rich and the legacies of her poetry:
- The Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online holds biographical essays on Rich from 1980 and 1988 (available to UIUC users)
- The MLA International Biography contains nearly 400 citations dealing with Rich’s work (available to UIUC users)
- Resources on Rich from Modern American Poetry
- The New Yorker has posted seven of Rich’s early poems originally published in the magazine
- The Poetry Foundation’s biography and critical overview
- Rich’s discussion of Tonight No Poetry Will Serve from the Paris Review
- Rich interviewed in 1999 by the Boston Phoenix
- PennSound’s archive of several of Rich’s readings