Adrienne Rich Power And Powerlessness Essay Topics

The society whose modernization has reached the stage of integrated spectacle is characterized by the combined effect of five principal factors: incessant technological renewal, integration of state and economy, generalized secrecy, unanswerable lies, and eternal present.

The spectator is simply supposed to know nothing and deserves nothing. Those who are watching to see what happens next will never act and such must be the spectator’s condition.

                                                                                       —Guy Debord

In a political culture of managed spectacles and passive spectators, poetry appears as a rift, a peculiar lapse, in the prevailing mode. The reading of a poem, a poetry reading, is not a spectacle, nor can it be passively received. It’s an exchange of electrical currents through language—that daily, mundane, abused, and ill-prized medium, that instrument of deception and revelation, that material thing, that knife, rag, boat, spoon/reed become pipe/tree trunk become drum/mud become clay flute/conch shell become summons to freedom/old trousers and petticoats become iconography in appliqué/rubber bands stretched around a box become lyre. Diane Glancy: Poetry uses the hub of a torque converter for a jello mold. I once saw, in a Chautauqua vaudeville, a man who made recognizably tonal music by manipulating a variety of sizes of wooden spoons with his astonishing fingers. Take that old, material utensil, language, found all about you, blank with familiarity, smeared with daily use, and make it into something that means more than it says. What poetry is made of is so old, so familiar, that it’s easy to forget that it’s not just the words, but polyrhythmic sounds, speech in its first endeavors (every poem breaks a silence that had to be overcome), prismatic meanings lit by each others’ light, stained by each others’ shadows. In the wash of poetry the old, beaten, worn stones of language take on colors that disappear when you sieve them up out of the streambed and try to sort them out.


And all this has to travel from the nervous system of the poet, preverbal, to the nervous system of the one who listens, who reads, the active participant without whom the poem is never finished.


I can’t write a poem to manipulate you; it will not succeed. Perhaps you have read such poems and decided you don’t care for poetry; something turned you away. I can’t write a poem from dishonest motives; it will betray its shoddy provenance, like an ill-made tool, a scissors, a drill, it will not serve its purpose, it will come apart in your hands at the point of stress. I can’t write a poem simply from good intentions, wanting to set things right, make it all better; the energy will leak out of it, it will end by meaning less than it says.

I can’t write a poem that transcends my own limits, though poetry has often pushed me beyond old horizons, and writing a poem has shown me how far out a part of me was walking beyond the rest. I can expect a reader to feel my limits as I cannot, in terms of her or his own landscape, to ask: But what has this to do with me? Do I exist in this poem? And this is not a simple or naive question. We go to poetry because we believe it has something to do with us. We also go to poetry to receive the experience of the not me, enter a field of vision we could not otherwise apprehend.

Someone writing a poem believes in a reader, in readers, of that poem. The “who” of that reader quivers like a jellyfish. Self-reference is always possible: that my “I” is a universal “we,” that the reader is my clone. That sending letters to myself is enough for attention to be paid. That my chip of mirror contains the world.

But most often someone writing a poem believes in, depends on, a delicate, vibrating range of difference, that an “I” can become a “we” without extinguishing others, that a partly common language exists to which strangers can bring their own heartbeat, memories, images. A language that itself has learned from the heartbeat, memories, images of strangers.


Spectacles controlled and designed to manipulate mass opinion, mass emotions depend increasingly on the ownership of vast and expensive technologies and on the physical distance of the spectators from the spectacle. (The bombing of Baghdad, the studios where competing camera shots were selected and edited and juxtaposed to project via satellite dazzling images of a clean, nonbloody war.) I’m not claiming any kind of purity for poetry, only its own particular way of being. But it’s notable that the making of and participation in poetry is so independent of high technology. A good sound system at a reading is of course a great advantage. Poetry readings can now be heard on tape, radio, recorded on video. But poetry would get lost in an immense technological performance scene. What poetry can give has to be given through language and voice, not through massive effects of lighting, sound, superimposed film images, nor as a mere adjunct to spectacle.

I need to make a crucial distinction here. The means of high technology are, as the poet Luís J. Rodriguez has said of the microchip, “surrounded by social relations and power mechanisms which arose out of another time, another period: . . . [they are] imprisoned by capitalism.” The spectacles produced by these means carry the messages of those social relations and power mechanisms: that our conditions are inevitable, that randomness prevails, that the only possible response is passive absorption and identification.

But there is a different kind of performance at the heart of the renascence of poetry as an oral art—the art of the griot, performed in alliance with music and dance, to evoke and catalyze a community or communities against passivity and victimization, to recall people to their spiritual and historic sources. Such art, here and now, does not and cannot depend on huge economic and technical resources, though in a different system of social relations it might well draw upon highly sophisticated technologies for its own ends without becoming dominated by them.


Someone is writing a poem. Words are being set down in a force field. It’s as if the words themselves have magnetic charges; they veer together or in polarity, they swerve against each other. Part of the force field, the charge, is the working history of the words themselves, how someone has known them, used them, doubted and relied on them in a life. Part of the movement among the words belongs to sound—the guttural, the liquid, the choppy, the drawn-out, the breathy, the visceral, the downlight. The theater of any poem is a collection of decisions about space and time—how are these words to lie on the page, with what pauses, what headlong motion, what phrasing, how can they meet the breath of the someone who comes along to read them? And in part the field is charged by the way images swim into the brain through written language: swan, kettle, icicle, ashes, scab, tamarack, tractor, veil, slime, teeth, freckle.

Lynn Emanuel writes of a nuclear-bomb test watched on television in the Nevada desert by a single mother and daughter living on the edge in a motel:


          Outside the window the McGill smelter
          sent a red dust down on the smoking yards of copper,
          on the railroad tracks’ frayed ends disappeared
          into the congestion of the afternoon. Ely lay dull

          and scuffed: a miner’s boot toe worn away and dim,
          while my mother knelt before the Philco to coax
          the detonation from the static. From the Las Vegas
          Tonapah Artillery and Gunnery Range the sound

          of the atom bomb came biting like a swarm
          of bees. We sat in the hot Nevada dark, delighted,
          when the switch was tripped and the bomb hoisted
          up its silky, hooded, glittering, uncoiling length;

          it hissed and spit, it sizzled like a poker in a toddy.
          The bomb was no mind and all body; it sent a fire
          of static down the spine. In the dark it glowed like the coils
          of an electric stove. It stripped every leaf from every

          branch until a willow by a creek was a bouquet
          of switches resinous, naked, flexible, and fine.
          Bathed in the light of KDWN, Las Vegas,
          my crouched mother looked radioactive, swampy,

          glaucous, like something from the Planet Krypton.
          In the suave, brilliant wattage of the bomb, we were
          not poor. In the atom’s fizz and pop we heard possibility
          uncorked. Taffeta wraps whispered on davenports.

          A new planet bloomed above us; in its light
          the stumps of cut pine gleamed like dinner plates.
          The world was beginning all over again, fresh and hot;
          we could have anything we wanted.

In the suave, brilliant wattage of the bomb, we were/not poor. This, you could say, is the political core of the poem, the “meaning” without which it could not exist. All that the bomb was meant to mean, as spectacle of power promising limitless possibilities to the powerless, all the falseness of its promise, the original devastation of two cities, the ongoing fallout into local communities, reservations—all the way to the Pacific Islands—this is the driving impulse of the poem, the energy it rides. Yet all this would be mere “message” and forgettable without the poem’s visual fury, its extraordinary leaps of sound and image: Ely lay dull/and scuffed: a miner’s boot toe worn away and dim . . . . Tafetta wraps whispered on davenports. The Planet Krypton is Superman’s planet, falling apart, the bits of rubble it flings to earth dangerous to the hero; Earth has become its own Planet Krypton—autotoxic.

At a certain point, a woman, writing this poem, has had to reckon the power of poetry as distinct from the power of the nuclear bomb, of the radioactive lesions of her planet, the power of poverty to reduce people to spectators of distantly conjured events. She can’t remain a spectator, hypnotized by the gorgeousness of a destructive force launched far beyond her control. She can feel the old primary appetites for destruction and creation within her; she chooses for creation and for language. But to do this she has to see clearly—and to make visible—how destructive power once seemed to serve her needs, how the bomb’s silky, hooded, glittering, uncoiling length might enthrall a mother and daughter as they watched, two marginal women, clinging to the edges of a speck in the desert. Her handling of that need, that destructiveness, in language, is how she takes on her true power.

Adrienne Cecile Rich (;[lacks stress] 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 SpeakerNewt Gingrich to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Early life and education[edit]

Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the elder of two sisters. Her father, renowned pathologist Arnold Rice Rich, was the chairman of pathology at The Johns Hopkins Medical School. Her mother, Helen Elizabeth (Jones) Rich,[4] was a concert pianist and a composer. Her father was from a Jewish family,[5] and her mother was Southern Protestant;[6] the girls were raised as Christians. Adrienne Rich's early poetic influence stemmed from her father who encouraged her to read but also to write her own poetry. Her interest in literature was sparked within her father's library where she read the work of writers such as Ibsen,[7]Arnold, Blake, Keats, Rossetti, and Tennyson. Her father was ambitious for Adrienne and "planned to create a prodigy." Adrienne Rich and her younger sister were home schooled by their mother until Adrienne began public education in the fourth grade. The poems Sources and After Dark document her relationship with her father, describing how she worked hard to fulfill her parents' ambitions for her—moving into a world in which she was expected to excel.[7]

In later years, Rich went to Roland Park Country School, which she described as a "good old fashioned girls' school [that] gave us fine role models of single women who were intellectually impassioned."[8] After graduating from high school, Rich gained her college diploma at Radcliffe College, where she focused primarily on poetry and learning writing craft, encountering no women teachers at all.[8] In 1951, her last year at college, Rich's 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. Following her graduation, Rich received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study at Oxford for a year. Following a visit to Florence, she chose not to return to Oxford, and spent her remaining time in Europe writing and exploring Italy.[9]

Early career: 1953–75[edit]

In 1953, Rich married Alfred Haskell Conrad, an economics professor at Harvard University she met as an undergraduate. She said of the match: "I married in part because I knew no better way to disconnect from my first family. I wanted what I saw as a full woman's life, whatever was possible."[9] They settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and had three sons. In 1955, she published her second volume, The Diamond Cutters, a collection she said she wished had not been published.[9] That year she also received the Ridgely Torrence Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.[10] Her three children were born in 1955 (David), 1957 (Pablo) and 1959 (Jacob).

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

From "Diving into the Wreck"
Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971–1972 (1973)[11]

The 1960s began a period of change in Rich's life: she received the National Institute of Arts and Letters award (1960), her second Guggenheim Fellowship to work at the Netherlands Economic Institute (1961), and the Bollingen Foundation grant for the translation of Dutch poetry (1962).[10][12][13] In 1963, Rich published her third collection, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law, which was a much more personal work examining her female identity, reflecting the increasing tensions she experienced as a wife and mother in the 1950s, marking a substantial change in Rich's style and subject matter. In her 1982 essay "Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity", Rich states: "The experience of motherhood was eventually to radicalize me." The book met with harsh reviews. She comments, "I was seen as 'bitter' and 'personal'; and to be personal was to be disqualified, and that was very shaking because I'd really gone out on a limb ... I realised I'd gotten slapped over the wrist, and I didn't attempt that kind of thing again for a long time."[9]

Moving her family to New York in 1966, Rich became involved with the New Left and became heavily involved in anti-war, civil rights, and feminist activism.[13] Her husband took a teaching position at City College of New York.[13] In 1968, she signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[14] Her collections from this period include Necessities of Life (1966), Leaflets (1969), and The Will to Change (1971), which reflect increasingly radical political content and interest in poetic form.[13]

From 1967 to 1969, Rich lectured at Swarthmore College and taught at Columbia University School of the Arts as an adjunct professor in the Writing Division. Additionally, in 1968, she began teaching in the SEEK program in City College of New York, a position she continued until 1975.[10] During this time, Rich also received the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry Magazine.[10] Increasingly militant, Rich and Conrad hosted anti-war and Black Panther fundraising parties at their apartment; however, rising tensions began to split the marriage, and Rich moved out in mid-1970, getting herself a small studio apartment nearby.[9][15] Shortly afterward, in October, Conrad drove into the woods and shot himself.[9][13]

In 1971, she was the recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and spent the next year and a half teaching at Brandeis University as the Hurst Visiting Professor of Creative Writing.[10]Diving into the Wreck, a collection of exploratory and often angry poems, split the 1974 National Book Award for Poetry with Allen Ginsberg, The Fall of America.[16][17] Declining to accept it individually, Rich was joined by the two other feminist poets nominated, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde, to accept it on behalf of all women "whose voices have gone and still go unheard in a patriarchal world."[18][19] The following year, Rich took up the position of the Lucy Martin Donnelly Fellow at Bryn Mawr College.[20]

Later life: 1976–2012[edit]

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]

In 1977, Rich became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[26] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.

In June 1984, Rich presented a speech at the International Conference of Women, Feminist Identity, and Society in Utrecht, Netherlands titled Notes Toward a Politics of Location.[27] Her keynote speech is a major document on politics of location and the birth of the concept of female “locatedness.” In discussing the location from which women speak, Rich attempts to reconnect female thought and speech with the female body; specifically, with an intent of reclaiming the body through verbalizing self-representation.[28] Further focusing on location, Rich begins the speech by noting that while at that moment in time she speaks these words in Europe, she has searched for these words in the United States.[27] By acknowledging her location in an essay on the progression of the women’s movement, she expresses her concerns for all women, not limited to just women in her Providence. Through widening her audience to women across the whole wide world Rich not only influences a larger movement but more importantly, she invites all women to consider their existence. Through imagining geographical locations on a map as history and as a place where women are created, and further focusing on the geographical locations, Rich ask women to examine where they themselves were created. In an attempt to try to find a sense of belonging in the world, Rich asks the audience not to begin with a continent, country, or house, but to start with the geography closest to themselves –which is their body.[27] Rich, therefore, challenges members of the audience and readers to form their own identity by refusing to be defined by the parameters of government, religion, and home.[27] The essay hypothesizes where the women’s movement should be at the end of the 20th century. In an encouraging call for the women’s movement, Rich discusses how the movement for change is an evolution in itself. Through de-masculinizing itself and de-Westernizing itself, the movement becomes a critical mass of so many different, voices, languages and overall actions. She pleads that the movement must change in order to experience change. She further insists that women must change it.[29] In her essay, Rich considers how one’s background might influence their identity. She furthers this notion by noting her own exploration of the body, her body, as female, as white, as Jewish and as a body in a nation.[30] Rich is careful to define the location in which her writing takes place. Throughout her essay, Rich relates back to the concept of location. She recounts her growth towards understanding how the women’s movement grounded in the Western culture is limited to the concerns of white women to the verbal and written indications of Black United States citizens. Such professions have allowed her to experience the meaning of her whiteness as a point of location for which she needed to take responsibility.[27] In 1986, she later published the essay in her prose collection Blood, Bread, and Poetry.[27]

Rich's work with the New Jewish Agenda led to the founding of Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends in 1990, a journal of which Rich served as the editor.[31] This work coincided explored the relationship between private and public histories, especially in the case of Jewish women's rights. Her next published piece, An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991), won both the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and the Lenore Marshall/Nation Award as well as the Poet's Prize in 1993 and Commonwealth Award in Literature in 1991.[10][17] During the 1990s Rich became an active member of numerous advisory boards such as the Boston Woman’s Fund, National Writers Union and Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa. On the role of the poet, she wrote, "We may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of seemingly out-of-control technological power and seemingly limitless corporate greed, yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us of kinship where all is represented as separation."[32] In July 1994, Rich won the MacArthur Fellowship and Award, specifically the "Genius Grant" for her work as a poet and writer.[33] Also in 1992, Rich became a grandmother to Julia Arden Conrad and Charles Reddington Conrad.[10]

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

From "What kinds of times are these?"[34]

In 1997, Rich declined the National Medal of Arts in protesting against the House of Representatives’ vote to end the National Endowment for the Arts as well as other policies of the Clinton Administration regarding the arts generally and literature in particular, stating that "I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration...[Art] means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of the power which holds it hostage".[13][35][36] Her next few volumes were a mix of poetry and essays: Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995–1998 (1999), The Art of the Possible: Essays and Conversations (2001), and Fox: Poems 1998–2000 (2001).

In the early 2000s, Rich participated in anti-war activities, protesting against the threat of war in Iraq, both through readings of her poetry and other activities. In 2002, she was appointed a chancellor of the newly augmented board of the Academy of American Poets, along with Yusef Komunyakaa, Lucille Clifton, Jay Wright (who declined the honor, refusing to serve), Louise Gluck, Heather McHugh, Rosanna Warren, Charles Wright, Robert Creeley, and Michael Palmer.[10] She was the winner of the 2003 Yale Bollingen Prize for American Poetry and applauded by the panel of judges for her "honesty at once ferocious, humane, her deep learning, and her continuous poetic exploration and awareness of multiple selves."[17] In October 2006, Equality Forum honored Rich's work, featuring her as an icon of LGBT history.[37]

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]

Views on Feminism[edit]

Perhaps the most prominent contribution of Rich can be seen through her works alone. She has written several pieces that explicitly tackle the rights of women in society. Her book entitled Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law is said to be the first work that discusses this subject matter. In the book, she offers a critical analysis of the life of being both a mother and a daughter-in-law, and the impact of their gender in their lives. The book is about a speaker talking against a woman, her mother-in-law, because the former feels that she had become a limiting factor in her life. In addition, she chastises her for not improving her life all the same. This book contains themes which can be described as common in feminist works. For one, it chastises a superficial life focusing on beauty rather than intellectual pursuit.

Her poems are also famous for their feminist elements. One such poem is “Power”, which was written about Marie Curie, one of the most important female icons of the 20th century for discovering radiation. In this poem, she discusses the element of power and feminism. More specifically, it tackles the problem that Curie was slowly succumbing to the radiation she acquired from her research, to which Rich refers in the poem as her source of power. This poem is said to be discussed the concept of power, particularly from a woman’s point of view.[41]

Besides poems and novels, Rich also wrote and published a number of nonfiction books that tackle feminist issues. Some of these books are: Of Woman Born, Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Blood, Bread and Poetry, etc. Especially the Bread and Poetry contains the famous feminist essay entitled “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”, and Feminism and Community.

From the works listed above as well as her various interviews and documentaries, demonstrate that Rich has an in-depth perspective of feminism and society.

For one, Rich has something to say about the use of the term itself. According to her, she prefers to use the term “women’s liberation” rather than feminism. For her, the latter term is more likely to induce resistance from women of the next generation. Also, she fears that the term would amount to nothing more than a label if it is used extensively. On the other hand, using the term women’s liberation means that women can finally be free from factors that can be seen as oppressive to their rights.[42]

Rich’s views on feminism can be found in her works. She says in Of Woman Born that "we need to understand the power and powerlessness embodied in motherhood in patriarchal culture." She also speaks regarding the need for women to unite in her book On Lies, Secrets and Silence. In this book, she spoke:

“Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.”

Given the feminist conditions during the 50s – 70s era, it can be said that Rich’s works on feminism are revolutionary. Her views on equality and the need for women to maximize their potential can be seen as progressive during her time. Her views strongly coincide with the feminist way of thinking during that time. For Rich, society as a whole is founded on patriarchy and as such it limits the rights for women. For equality to be achieved between the sexes, the prevailing notions will have to be readjusted to fit the female perspective.[43]

Selected awards and honors[edit]

Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:


This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.


  • Rich, Adrienne (1976). Of woman born : motherhood as experience and institution. Norton. 
  • 1979: On Lies, Secrets and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966–1978
  • 1986: Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979–1985 (Includes the noted essay: "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence")
  • 1993: What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics
  • 1995: If Not with Others, How? pp. 399–405 in Weiss, Penny A.; Friedman, Marilyn. Feminism and community. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 9781566392761. 
  • 2001: Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-05045-5. 
  • 2007: Poetry and Commitment: An Essay
  • 2009: A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997–2008



  • 1951: A Change of World. Yale University Press. 
  • 1955: The Diamond Cutters, and Other Poems. Harper. 
  • 1963: Snapshots of a daughter-in-law: poems, 1954-1962. Harper & Row. 
  • 1966: Necessities of life: poems, 1962-1965. W.W. Norton. 
  • 1967: Selected Poems. Chatto & Hogarth P Windus. 
  • 1969: Leaflets. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-03-930419-5. 
  • 1971: The Will to Change: Poems 1968-1970. Norton. 
  • 1973: Diving into the Wreck. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-31163-1. 
  • 1975: Poems: Selected and New, 1950-1974. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-04392-1. 
  • 1976: Twenty-one Love Poems. Effie's Press. 
  • 1978: The Dream of a Common Language. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-04502-4. 
  • 1982: A Wild Patience Has Taken Me this Far: Poems 1978-1981. W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-393-31037-5.  (reprint 1993)
  • 1983: Sources. Heyeck Press. 
  • 1984: The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984. W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-393-31075-7. 
  • 1986: Your Native Land, Your Life: Poems. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-02318-3. 
  • 1989: Time’s Power: Poems, 1985-1988. Norton. 1989. ISBN 978-0-393-02677-1. 
  • 1991: An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-03069-3. 
  • 1993: Collected Early Poems, 1950-1970. W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-393-31385-7. 
  • 1995: Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems, 1991-1995. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-03868-2. 
  • 1996: Selected poems, 1950-1995. Salmon Pub. ISBN 978-1-897648-78-0. 
  • 1999: Midnight Salvage: Poems, 1995-1998. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-04682-3. 
  • 2001: Fox: Poems 1998-2000. W W Norton & Co Inc. ISBN 978-0-393-32377-1.  (reprint 2003)
  • 2004: The School Among the Ruins: Poems, 2000-2004. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 978-0-393-32755-7. 
  • 2007: Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems 2004–2006. ISBN 978-0-393-06565-7. 
  • 2010: Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010. ISBN 0-393-07967-8. 

Critical studies and reviews of Rich's work[edit]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ abShuman (2002) p1278
  8. ^ abMartin, Wendy (1984) An American triptych: Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich The University of North Carolina Press p174 ISBN 0-8078-4112-9
  9. ^ abcdefghijGuardian article, profile: "Poet and pioneer". 15 June 2002. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  10. ^ abcdefghiLangdell, 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. 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. ^ abcdefShuman (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. ^ ab"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. ^ abcd"". 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
  24. ^ abCucinella, 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. ^ abcdefRich, 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. 
  37. ^
  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.

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