Partner Michelle Cliff

Queer Places:
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, Stati Uniti
Brandeis University, 415 South St, Waltham, MA 02453, Stati Uniti
University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2JD, Regno Unito

Adrienne Cecile Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist and radical feminist. She was called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century",[1][2] and was credited with bringing "the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse."[3]

Her first collection of poetry, A Change of World, was selected by renowned poet W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Auden went on to write the introduction to the published volume. She famously declined the National Medal of Arts, protesting the vote by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1976, Rich began her partnership with Jamaican-born novelist and editor Michelle Cliff, which lasted until her death. In her controversial work Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, published the same year, Rich acknowledged that, for her, lesbianism was a political as well as a personal issue, writing, "The suppressed lesbian I had been carrying in me since adolescence began to stretch her limbs."[9] The pamphlet Twenty-One Love Poems (1977), which was incorporated into the following year's Dream of a Common Language (1978), marked the first direct treatment of lesbian desire and sexuality in her writing, themes which run throughout her work afterwards, especially in A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far (1981) and some of her late poems in The Fact of a Doorframe (2001).[21] In her analytical work Adrienne Rich: the moment of change, Langdell suggests these works represent a central rite of passage for the poet, as she (Rich) crossed a threshold into a newly constellated life and a "new relationship with the universe".[22] During this period, Rich also wrote a number of key socio-political essays, including "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence", one of the first to address the theme of lesbian existence.[9] In this essay, she asks "how and why women's choice of women as passionate comrades, life partners, co-workers, lovers, community, has been crushed, invalidated, forced into hiding".[9] Some of the essays were republished in On Lies, Secrets and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966–1978 (1979). In integrating such pieces into her work, Rich claimed her sexuality and took a role in leadership for sexual equality.[9]

From 1976 to 1979, Rich taught at City College as well as Rutgers University as an English Professor. In 1979, she received an honorary doctorate from Smith College and moved with Cliff to Montague, MA. Ultimately, they moved to Santa Cruz, where Rich continued her career as a professor, lecturer, poet, and essayist. Rich and Cliff took over editorship of the lesbian arts journal Sinister Wisdom (1981–1983).[23][24] Rich taught and lectured at UC Santa Cruz, Scripps College, San Jose State University, and Stanford University during the 1980s and 1990s.[24] From 1981 to 1987, Rich served as an A.D. White Professor-At-Large for Cornell University.[25] Rich published several volumes in the next few years: Your Native Land, Your Life (1986), Blood, Bread, and Poetry (1986), and Time’s Power: Poems 1985–1988 (1989). She also was awarded the Ruth Paul Lilly Poetry Prize (1986), the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in Arts and Letters from NYU, and the National Poetry Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Art of Poetry (1989).[10][17]

Rich died on March 27, 2012, at the age of 82 in her Santa Cruz, California home. Her son, Pablo Conrad, reported that her death resulted from long-term rheumatoid arthritis.[38] Her last collection was published the year before her death. Rich was survived by her sons, two grandchildren[39] and her partner Michelle Cliff.[40]


  1. Nelson, Cary, editor. Anthology of Modern American Poetry. Oxford University Press. 2000.
  2. "Poet Adrienne Rich, 82, has died". Los Angeles Times. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  3. Flood, Alison (March 29, 2012). "Adrienne Rich, award-winning poet and essayist, dies". The Guardian. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  4. "Adrienne Cecile Rich". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  5. Langdell, Cheri Colby (2004). Adrienne Rich: the moment of change. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-313-31605-0.
  6. A to Z of American women writers – Carol Kort. October 30, 2007. ISBN 9781438107936.
  7. Shuman (2002) p1278
  8. Martin, Wendy (1984) An American triptych: Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich The University of North Carolina Press p174 ISBN 0-8078-4112-9
  9. Guardian article, profile: "Poet and pioneer". 15 June 2002. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  10. Langdell, Cherl Colby (2004). Adrienne Rich: The Moment of Change. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. pp. xv.
  11. "Diving into the Wreck". The Academy of American Poets. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  12. "American Academy of Arts and Letters". American Academy of Arts and Letter Award Winners. Archived from the original on October 13, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  13. Shuman (2002) p1281
  14. “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
  15. Michelle Dean, "The Wreck: Adrienne Rich’s feminist awakening, glimpsed through her never-before-published letters.", The New Republic, April 3, 2016.
  16. "National Book Awards – 1974". National Book Foundation. Retrieved March 11, 2012. (With acceptance speech by Rich and essay by Evie Shockley from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  17. "". Adrienne Rich. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  18. Shuman (2002) p1276
  19. "National Book Foundation". National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  20. "The Poetry Foundation". Adrienne Rich. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  21. Aldrich and Wotherspoon (2000) Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, Vol 2. Routledge p352 ISBN 0-415-22974-X.
  22. Langdell, Cheri Colby (2004) Adrienne Rich: the moment of change. p159 Praeger Publishers ISBN 0-313-31605-8
  23. Sinister Wisdom history Archived February 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. Cucinella, Catherine (2002) Contemporary American women poets: an A-to-Z guide. p295 Greenwood Press ISBN 0-313-31783-6
  25. "Andrew D. White Professors-At-Large". Cornell University. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  26. "Associates | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  27. Rich, Adrienne (1986). Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985. New York: Norton. p. 210. ISBN 0393311627.
  28. Littman, Linda (2003). ""Old Dogs, New Tricks": Intersections of the Personal, the Pedagogical, the Professional". The English Journal. 93: 66 – via JSTOR.
  29. DeShazer, Mary K. (1996). ""The End of a Century": Feminist Millennial Vision in Adrienne Rich's "Dark Fields of the Republic"". NWSA Journal. 8.3: 46 – via JSTOR.
  30. Eagleton, Mary (2000). "Adrienne Rich, Location And The Body". Journal of Gender Studies. 9.3: 299–312 – via Academic Search Premier.
  31. Rich, Adrienne (2001). Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 138–144.
  32. "Adrienne Rich: Online Essays and Letters". Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  33. "MacArthur: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation". Fellow Program. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  34. "What kinds of times are these?" Poetry Foundation.
  35. "In a Protest, Poet Rejects Arts Medal", The New York Times, July 11, 1997. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  36. Rich, Adrienne (2001). Adrienne Rich, ed. Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations. Why I Refused the National Medal for the Arts. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 95–105.
  38. "Poet Adrienne Rich, 82, has died". Los Angeles Times. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  39. Adrienne Rich grandchildren
  40. "Adrienne Rich". The Daily Telegraph. March 29, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  41. Selvalakshmi, S. & Girija Rajaram. Power for Women: Poems of Adrienne Cecile Rich.
  42. Sheridan, Susan. Adrienne Rich and the Women’s Liberation Movement: A Politics of Reception.
  43. Collins, Michael J. "The Unearthing of the Body in Adrienne Rich's Politics". Seton Hall ERepository, Seton Hall University.
  44. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter R" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
  45. "Distinguished Contribution to American Letters". National Book Foundation. Retrieved March 11, 2012. (With acceptance speech by Rich and introduction by Mark Doty.)
  46. "2017 Pulitzer Prizes". Pulitzer. Retrieved April 10, 2017.