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Works by
Adrienne Rich
(aka Adrienne Cecile Rich)
[1929 - ]

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Profile created March 1, 2005
Updated November 10, 2009
As Editor
  • Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997-2008 (April 1, 2009)
    Over more than three decades Adrienne Rich’s essays have been praised for their lucidity, courage, and range of concerns. In A Human Eye, Rich examines a diverse selection of writings and their place in past and present social disorders and transformations. Beyond literary theories, she explores from many angles how the arts of language have acted on and been shaped by their creators’ worlds.

    This powerful new collection includes a stirring response to the anthology Iraqi Poetry Today, a critique of three classic socialist manifestos, and a rereading of The Dead Lecturer, an early volume of poems by LeRoi Jones. Rich engages the impulse to make art that both impels toward and interacts with social change, a theme she also traces through the letters of poets Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, gay and lesbian politics and poetry, and influential texts on Zionism and the Jewish diaspora.

  • Poetry and Commitment: An Essay (2007)
    With passion, critical questioning, and humor, Adrienne Rich suggests how poetry has actually been lived in the world, past and present. In this essay, which was the basis for her speech upon accepting the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, she ranges among themes including poetry's disparagement as "either immoral or unprofitable," the politics of translation, how poetry enters into extreme situations, different poetries as conversations across place and time. In its openness to many voices, Poetry and Commitment offers a perspective on poetry in an ever more divided and violent world.

  • Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations (2001)
    These essays trace a distinguished writer's engagement with her time, her arguments with herself and others. "I am a poet who knows the social power of poetry, a United States citizen who knows herself irrevocably tangled in her society's hopes, arrogance, and despair," Adrienne Rich writes. The essays in Arts of the Possible search for possibilities beyond a compromised, degraded system, seeking to imagine something else. They call on the fluidity of the imagination, from poetic vision to social justice, from the badlands of political demoralization to an art that might wound, that may open scars when engaged in its work, but will finally suture and not tear apart. This volume collects Rich's essays from the last decade of the twentieth century, including four earlier essays, as well as several conversations that go further than the usual interview. Also included is her essay explaining her reasons for declining the National Medal for the Arts.

  • Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence (1981)

  • Of Woman Born: Motherhood As Experience and Institution (1974, 1977, 1986, 1995)
    Adrienne Rich's influential and landmark investigation concerns both the experience and the institution of motherhood. The experience is her own—as a woman, a poet, a feminist, and a mother—but it is an experience determined by the institution, imposed on all women everywhere. She draws on personal materials, history, research, and literature to create a document of universal importance.
  • The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004 (2004) -- Finalist, 2004 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry

  • In this new collection Adrienne Rich confronts dislocations and upheavals in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The title poem, in a young schoolteacher's voice, evokes the lessons that children ("Not of course here") learn amid violence and hatred, "when the whole town flinches / blood on the undersole thickening to glass." "Usonian Journals 2000" intercuts faces and conversations, building to a dystopic/utopic vision. Throughout these fierce and musical poems, Rich traces the imprint of a public crisis on individual experience: personal lives bent by collective realities, language itself held to account.
  • Fox: Poems 1998-2000 (2001) -- Winner, 2001 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry
    In this volume, Adrienne Rich pursues her signature themes and takes them further: the discourse between poetry and history, interlocutions within and across gender, dialogues between poets and visual artists, human damages and dignity, and the persistence of utopian visions. Here Rich continues taking the temperature of mind and body in her time in an intimate and yet commanding voice that resonates long after an initial reading. Fox is formidable and moving, fierce and passionate, and one of Rich's most powerful works to date.

  • Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998 (1999)
    "Look: with all my fear I'm here with you, trying what it means, to stand fast; what it means to move."

    In these astonishing new poems, Adrienne Rich dares to look and to extend her poetic language as witness to the treasures--the midnight salvage--we rescue from fear and fragmentation. Rich's work has long challenged social plausibilities built on violence and demoralizing power. In Midnight Salvage, she continues her explorations at the end of the century, trying, as she has said, "to face the terrible with hope, in language as complex as necessary, as communicative as possible--a poetics which can work as antidote to complacency, self-involvement, and despair. I have wanted to assume a theater of voices rather than the restricted I. To write for both readers I know exist and those I can only imagine, finding their own salvaged beauty as I have found mine."

  • Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995 (1995) -- Winner, 1995 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry
    "When does a life bend toward freedom? grasp its direction?" asks Adrienne Rich in Dark Fields of the Republic, her major new work. Her explorations go to the heart of democracy and love, and the historical and present endangerment of both.

    The poems of Dark Fields of the Republic are a theater of voices: of men and women, the dead and the living, over time and across continents. Rich writes out of conversations actual and imaginary, actions taken for better or for worse, out of histories and songs, humdrum and terrible events, out of the most intimate loves and love for the world. Through these poems, she extends the poet's reach of witness and power of connection, and invites the reader-listener to participate.

  • The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems 1950-2001, New Edition (1994)
    A reissue of the classic Adrienne Rich selection, revised and expanded to cover the entirety of her career, with a new Introduction.

    The Fact of a Doorframe is the ideal introduction to Rich's opus, from her formative lyricism in A Change of Word (1951), to the groundbreaking poems of Diving into the Wreck (1973), to the searching voice of Fox (2001).

  • What Is Found There / An Atlas of the Difficult World / The Fact of a Doorframe (1994)

  • Collected Early Poems: 1950-1970 (1993)
    National Book Award finalist Adrienne Rich (An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991) is unequaled among living poets for her success in reclaiming serious poetry from scholars and returning it to the lives of general readers. Collected here for the first time are more than 200 poems: all those in her first six books plus a dozen others.

  • The Dream of a Common Language: Poems, 1974-1977 (1993)
    This collection of poems from 1974 to 1977 is written by one of America's most successful and most moving modern poets. By the author of An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991.

  • An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991 (1991) -- Winner, 1991 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry
    In this, her thirteenth book of verse, the author of "The Dream of a Common Language" and "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law" writes of war, oppression, the future, death, mystery, love and the magic of poetry.

  • Time's Power: Poems, 1985-1988 (1989)
    For 30 years, Rich's poetry has revealed the individual personal life--sexualities, loves, damages, struggles--as inseparable from a wider social condition, a world with others, in which the empowering of the disempowered is increasingly the source of hope. Time's Power shows Rich writing with unprecedented range, complexity and authority.

  • Your Native Land, Your Life: Poems (1986)
    The book includes two extraordinary longer works: the self-exploratory "Sources" and "Contradictions—Tracking Poems," an ongoing index of an American woman's life.

  • Sources (1984)

  • A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far: Poems 1978-1981 (1981)

  • Poems: Selected and New, 1950-1974 (1974)

  • Diving Into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 (1973) -- Winner of the National Book Award
    Poetry that involves a search to discover and reclaim what has been lost, forgotten, or unexplored.

  • Attica (1972)

  • The Will to Change: Poems 1968-1970 (1971)

  • Leaflets: Poems 1965-1968 (1969)

  • Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1967)

  • Necessities of Life (1966)

  • A Change of World: Poems (1951, 1972)

  • Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979 -1985 (1986)
    Through a wide range of poetic pieces, Adrienne Rich explores in this collection the intricacies of being white, female, lesbian, Jewish, and a U.S. citizen, both at this time of her life and through the lens of her past.

  • On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 (1979)
    In this collection of prose writings, one of America's foremost poets and feminist theorists reflects upon themes that have shaped her life and work. At issue are the politics of language; the uses of scholarship; and the topics of racism, history, and motherhood among others called forth by Rich as "part of the effort to define a female consciousness which is political, aesthetic, and erotic, and which refuses to be included or contained in the culture of passivity."

  • Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose (1993), Selected and edited by Albert Gelpi and Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi
    This Norton Critical Edition presents the work of one of America's foremost poets. It moves well beyond the scope of its predecessor, Adrienne Rich's Poetry (1975), in giving proper recognition to Rich's extraordinary achievements in both poetry and prose in recent years.

    The result is a judiciously edited, sensibly annotated volume ideally suited for classroom study of one of our most distinguished working writers.

    In both poetry and prose, the editors have chosen selections intended to give readers a clear sense of Rich's evolution and accomplishment. Many of the poems in this expanded collection are from Rich's five recent volumes—The Dream of a Common Language (1978), A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far (1981), Your Native Land, Your Life (1986), Time's Power: Poems 1985-1988 (1989), and An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991).

    Prose selections include "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision," Rich's canonical statement on feminism; "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," on being a lesbian in a heterosexual world; Rich's interview for American Poetry Review, which presents a full and frank discussion of her work; and her previously unpublished commentary on the genesis of the poem "Yom Kippur 1984."

    The editors have also taken into account the many essays on Rich and reviews of her work that have been published since 1975.

    Some earlier biographical selections have been replaced with works that focus on the quality of Rich's writing and her place in twentieth-century American literature—not just as a poet, but as a woman, a lesbian, and a mother.

    Criticism includes thirteen reviews and interpretations of Rich's work by W. H. Auden, John Ashbery, Margaret Atwood, Helen Vendler, Judith McDaniel, Adrian Oktenberg, Charles Altieri, and Joanna Feit Diehl, among others.

    A second recent study by Albert Gelpi traces the events in Rich's life from which her work evolves.

    An updated Chronology and Selected Bibliography, as well as an expanded Index, are included.

  • What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (1993, 2003)
    America's enduring poet of conscience reflects on the proven and potential role of poetry in contemporary politics and life.

    Through journals, letters, dreams, and close readings of the work of many poets, Adrienne Rich reflects on how poetry and politics enter and impinge on American life. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the author as well as her post-9/11 "Six Meditations in Place of a Lecture."

  • The Meaning of Our Love for Women Is What We Have Constantly to Expand (1977)

  • Adrienne Rich's Poetry (1975, 1980), Albert Gelpi and Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi, eds.
    Texts of the poems, the poet on her work, and reviews and criticism

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