Farewell Adrienne Rich
The recipient of such literary awards as the Yale Young Poets prize, the National Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and the Dorothea Tanning Award given by the Academy of American Poets, Rich died Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz of complications from long-term rheumatoid arthritis, said a son, Pablo Conrad.
She came of age during the social upheavals of the 1960s and '70s and was best known as an advocate of women's rights, which she wrote about in both her poetry and prose. But she also wrote passionate antiwar poetry and took up the causes of the marginalized and underprivileged.
The last time I saw Adrienne Rich give a reading was in Arizona. She was needing assistance getting around then, and had at her call a few graduate students wheeling her around in a wheelchair. But she didn't care for the wheelchair. Not one bit. Quite fiesty, she'd call out to these graduates to do this and that for her, but all the while she maintained a regal yet strangely humble demeanor.
I've loved her work for as long as I've been writing poetry. In fact, one of the first poetry collections I ever purchased with my own money was An Atlas of a Difficult World. I still have my old copy, complete with dog-ears, marginalia, and scribbles.
But even more moving to me was her prose. So much of my own personal identity politics have arisen from spending hours reading her essays, arguing, and meditating.
I'll miss your mind, Adrienne Rich.