Adrienne Rich

Poet, Author

1929 – 2012

107

Who was Adrienne Rich?

Adrienne Cecile Rich was an American poet, essayist and feminist. She was called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century", and was credited with bringing "the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse."

Her first collection of poetry, A Change of World, was selected by the senior poet W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award; he went on to write the introduction to the published volume. Rich famously declined the National Medal of Arts, protesting the United States House of Representatives and Speaker Gingrich's vote to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Famous Quotes:

  • The moment of change is the only poem.
  • The mind's passion is all for singling out. Obscurity has another tale to tell.
  • The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.
  • There is the falsely mystical view of art that assumes a kind of supernatural inspiration, a possession by universal forces unrelated to questions of power and privilege or the artist's relation to bread and blood. In this view, the channel of art can only become clogged and misdirected by the artist's concern with merely temporary and local disturbances. The song is higher than the struggle.
  • The worker can unionize, go out on strike; mothers are divided from each other in homes, tied to their children by compassionate bonds; our wildcat strikes have most often taken the form of physical or mental breakdown.
  • As her sons have seen her: the mother in patriarchy: controlling, erotic, castrating, heart-suffering, guilt-ridden, and guilt-provoking; a marble brow, a huge breast, an avid cave; between her legs snakes, swamp-grass, or teeth; on her lap a helpless infant or a martyred son. She exists for one purpose: to bear and nourish the son.
  • Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events.
  • They can rule the world while they can persuade us our pain belongs in some order is death by famine worse than death by suicide, than a life of famine and suicide...?
  • How we dwelt in two worlds the daughters and the mothers in the kingdom of the sons.
  • We might hypothetically possess ourselves of every technological resource on the North American continent, but as long as our language is inadequate, our vision remains formless, our thinking and feeling are still running in the old cycles, our process may be revolutionary but not transformative.

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Born
May 16, 1929
Baltimore
Also known as
  • Adrienne Cecile Rich
  • Rich, Adrienne
Parents
Spouses
Ethnicity
  • White American
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • Radcliffe College
  • Harvard University
Lived in
  • Baltimore
  • Santa Cruz
Died
Mar 27, 2012
Santa Cruz

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

Citation

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