Poet Adrienne Rich Dies at 82

Adrienne Rich, one of America's great poets, has died at the age of 82, the AP reports:

RichRich died Tuesday at her Santa Cruz home from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.

Through her writing, Rich explored topics such as women’s rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems “Diving into the Wreck” in 1974. In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection “The School Among the Ruins."

Rich came out of the closet after leaving her husband and met her lifelong partner, the writer Michelle Cliff, in 1976.


  1. ingrates says

    She is an excellent poet, Jesus Christ. Fantastically technical, inspirationally lyrical. We should all be such “bad” poets. Claim your own.

  2. DavidGroff says

    I come home from you through the early light of Spring
    flashing off ordinary walls, the Pez Dorado,
    the Discount Wares, the shoe-store…I’m lugging my sack
    of groceries, I dash for the elevator
    where a man, taut, elderly, carefully composed
    lets the door almost close on me. – For God sake hold it!
    I croak at him – Hysterical, – he breathes my way.
    I let myself into the kitchen, unload my bundles,
    make coffee, open the window, put on Nina Simone
    singing Here Comes the Sun…I open the mail,
    drinking delicious coffee, delicious music,
    my body still both light and heavy with you. The mail,
    lets fall a Xerox of something written by a man
    aged 27, a hostage, tortured in prison:
    My genitals have been the object of such a sadistic display
    they keep me constantly awake with the pain…
    Do whatever you can to survive.
    You know, I think men love wars…
    And my incurable anger, my unmendable wounds
    break open further with tears, I am crying helplessly,
    and they still control the world, and you are not in my arms.

    –from “21 Love Poems,” Adrienne Rich

  3. stephen says

    A great and influential poet, also a great writer of the essay and criticism. Her essay: Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson ( 1975) changed the world a bit for me. I met her years ago – she was kind, open and had a great sence of humor. She lived with illness a long time. Bless A.R.

  4. Tom says

    she left her husband and he commited suicide. This colored all of her anger toward patriachal power. She was devasted. She was also very funny in person. Loved vodka ! Her partner and I grew up together.

  5. m. says

    Rich was an extraordinary poet and writer. Yes, she was an activist as well (and activist is not a bad word, folks), and one cannot simply dismiss the breadth of her work as an artist. Diving into the Wreck will live on for many generations as an exemplary poetic piece. I heard her read in San Francisco with June Jordan, Thom Gunn, and Allen Ginsberg and to think that each one of them has passed away is hard to take. But thank goodness we all have their poems to remind us of their singular voice in American letters. Let’s hope the next generation of poets will push the lyrical content of their work into such risky areas of form and content as this previous generation did so! And Andy, thanks for posting about a poet and for a blog that is the first thing I read everyday. Many blessings to you, Andy! :)

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