Adrienne Rich, a renowned feminist poet and essayist died Tuesday in her Santa Cruz home from complications with rheumatoid arthritis. She was 82.
Rich’s writing centered on her observations and reflections on women’s rights, racism, civil rights, politics, sexuality and sexuality between women. She brought to the forefront issues that plagued women in the 1950s and was a true pioneer of the feminist movement.
She wrote over two-dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen prose throughout her career, winning countless awards and prizes for her enlightening writing. According to her publisher, W.W. Horton, Rich sold over between 750,000 to 800,000 copies of her books.
Rich attended Radcliff University, married Harvard economic professor, Alfred Conrad in 1953 and had three children. Six years after the death of her husband, Rich moved in with her partner, Michelle Cliff.
Her poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers,” in which she uses the daily routine of a housewife to illustrate female oppression, is one of my favorites.
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
Are of any of you BUSTies Adrienne Rich fans?
Photo Credit: learner.org