Sixty years of poems from pioneering writer, activist, and intellectual Adrienne Rich—“the Blake of American letters” (Nadine Gordimer).
Adrienne Rich was the singular voice of her generation, bringing discussions of gender, race, and class to the forefront of poetical discourse. This generous selection from all nineteen of Rich’s published poetry volumes encompasses her best-known work—the clear-sighted and passionate feminist poems of the 1970s, including “Diving into the Wreck,” “Planetarium,” and “The Phenomenology of Anger”—and offers the full range of her evolution as a poet. From poems leading up to her feminist breakthrough through bold later work such as “North American Time” and “Calle Visión,” Selected Poems celebrates Rich’s prophetic vision as well as the inventiveness that shaped her enduring art.
About the Author
Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed, and widely taught, Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) was for decades among the most influential writers of the feminist movement and one of the best-known American public intellectuals. She wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose. Her constellation of honors includes two National Book Awards, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, and a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. Ms. Rich’s volumes of poetry include The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose includes the essay collections On Lies, Secrets, and Silence; Blood, Bread, and Poetry; an influential essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” and the nonfiction book Of Woman Born, which examines the institution of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. In 2010, she was honored with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award.
Albert Gelpi is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature at Stanford University, where he has also taught since 1968. His books include Emily Dickinson: The Mind of the Poet, The Tenth Muse: The Psyche of the American Poet, and, most recently, A Coherent Splendor: The American Poetic Renaissance, 1910-1950. He is the editor of Wallace Stevens: The Poetics of Modernism and Denise Levertov: Selected Criticism and for a decade edited Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture.
Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi is Professor of English at Stanford University, where she has taught since 1968. She is the author of Shelleyís Goddess: Maternity, Language, Subjectivity and Dark Passages: The Decadent Consciousness in Victorian Literature, as well as numerous articles on, mainly, feminist and psychological literature. She is an editor of several important volumes, including Feminist Theory: A Critique of Ideologies and Women and Poverty.
Brett C. Millier is the Reginald L. Cook Professor of American Literature at Middlebury College. She is the author of Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It, and Flawed Light: American Women Poets and Alcohol. She is also associate editor of The Columbia History of American Poetry.
Rich is one of the greatest American poets of the past half century.
Rich’s poems, volume after volume, have been the makings of one of the authentic, unpredictable, urgent, essential voices of our time. — W. S. Merwin
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