The late infamous Adrienne Rich died today at the age of eighty- three after a long fight with debilitating arthritics.
The poet and essayist was one of American foremost public intellectuals in a career that spanned six decades. Her earlier work hewed closely with other post-war poets. A Change of World (1951) won the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Award which was demure and exact for her time. But Rich soon broke out of that mold in the 1960’s and 70’s becoming increasingly radical, both in free-verse form, feminist and political content.
Best known for her politically engaged verse from the Vietnam War, her collection of poems, Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 (1973) She won the National Book Award for her work that she shared with her fellow female nominees and on behave of all women. She also won numerous other awards and commendations for her life’s work, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bollingen Prize, the
, and a MacArthur “Genius” Award. Academy of American Poets Fellowship
Rich emphasis on the social conditions of private lives has been a mainstay in her poems and poses throughout her rich career which often times implores the influence of contemporary world events. She made headlines in 1997 when she refused the National Medal of Arts stating political reasons.
Unlike most, Rich got to chronicle her sixty years in the public eye in her pose.
Credo of a Passionate Skeptic
"I began as an American optimist, albeit a critical one, formed by our racial legacy and by the Vietnam War...I became an American Skeptic, not as to the long search for justice and dignity, which is part of all human history, but in the light of my nation's leading role in demoralizing and destabilizing that search, here at home and around the world. Perhaps just such a passionate skepticism, neither cynical nor nihilistic, is the ground for continuing."