Renowned feminist poet Adrienne Rich died on Tuesday at the age of 82. Rich, who wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and sold approximately 800,000 copies of her work, was widely acclaimed for her writings advocating for the rights of women and lesbians.
According to the New York Times, Rich “accomplished in verse what Betty Friedan, author of the Feminine Mystique, did in prose. In describing the stifling minutiae that had defined women’s lives for generations, both argued persuasively that women’s disenfranchisement at the hands of men must end.”
Barbara Gelpi, a professor emeritus of English and women’s studies at Stanford University, remarked, “Adrienne Rich was a voice for the feminist movement when it was just starting and didn’t have a voice. She expressed the sources of women’s pain when women were coming to a sense of their own history and potential.”
Rich received a bachelors degree in English at Radcliffe College, Harvard in 1951 and taught at Columbia, Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell and Stanford over the course of her career. She was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1994 and a National Book Award in 1974 for her collection of poetry, Diving Into the Wreck.
New York Times 3/28/12; Los Angeles Times 3/28/12