The Poetry of Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland in the year of 1929. Rich grew up in a household as she describes it as "
white, middle-class, full of books, and with a father who encouraged her to write" (Daniel). Her father Arnold Rich was a doctor and a pathology professor and her mother, Helen Jones Rich , was a pianist and a composer. "Adrienne Rich recalls her growing-up years clearly dominated by the intellectual presence and demands of the male in the family, her father, while correctly marked by the submerged tensions arising from the conflicts between the religious and cultural heritage of the father's Jewish background and her mother's Southern Protestantism" (Pope). In the year of 1951, Rich graduated from Radcliffe University. During this year, Adrienne Rich also won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her first book, A Change of World. In 1953, Adrienne Rich married Alfred Conrad who was a Harvard economist; during the next five years Rich had three sons. Deborah Pope says that Rich's journal entries, from these years, state that this was an "emotionally and artistically difficult period" (Pope). Rich's poems were mainly influenced by Robert Frost, Yeates, Stevens, and Auden. She became a major influence, through her essays and poetry, in many areas of modern-day women's movements, she had become one of the most provoking voices on the politics of sexuality, race, power, and womens culture.
Adrienne Rich is a southern Jew who grew up during the forties. Rich lived in a gentle neighborhood and was never taught about her Jewish heritage. She eventually had to deal with conflicts between the religious and cultural heritage of her father's Jewish background and her mother's southern Protestantism (Pope). Rich's father didn't show any signs of ethnicity in any way. He did this to fit into a society that was against Jewish people. In many of her works, Adrienne Rich talks about being oppressed. In her poem, "1948: Jews," Adrienne Rich refers to her college years. At Radcliffe University, she was to stay away from Jews. No matter how much she wanted, she could not unite with them as a group because socially it was less acceptable. She had to avoid her own ethnicity to survive in the American culture. "A Vision," is another poem Rich wrote that discusses the issue of racism. In this poem, Rich talks about a Jewish women who died during WWII. The reason why Rich talks about this woman is because she can relate to this woman. Adrienne Rich can relate to her because they both are Jewish women that grew up in the forties. They were both victims of racism or felt racism in society, The poem refers to being forced to lose your identity, character, and ethnicity. Throughout her life Adrienne Rich has felt a loss of identity. Rich's father practically abandons his heritage to fit into a racist society (Pope). This hatred from society and the loss of identity has influenced Rich to write such great works. She has become a fervent activist against racism.
In 1951, when Rich first began writing poetry, she portrayed her writing after the prevailing male influential writers of the period. Later during the 1970s she began to change her way of writing and focused on feminism and lesbianism (American). At Radcliffe University, she studied solely male poets and she was taught entirely by male professors. These male poets and professors credited the origins of her style and their influence really showed in her early poetry. In 1953, Adrienne Rich married Alfred Conrad, a Harvard economist; in the next five years she gave birth to three sons. This was an emotionally and artistically difficult period for Adrienne Rich. Meagan Daniels explains that Rich felt it impossible for her to write without space (Daniel). She was struggling with conflicts over the given roles of womanhood versus those of artistry. "I was writing very little, partly from fatigue, that female fatigue of...
Bibliography: of Adrienne Rich." Encyclopedia of American Poetry 2001. Compiled and hyperlinked by Gunnan Bengtsson. AmericanPoems.com. 30 Dec 2004 .
"Rich, Adrienne." Benet 's Reader 's Encyclopedia of American Literature. Ed. 1, 1991, Vol. 1 P909. Tennessee Electronic Library. 29 Oct 2004 .
Rothschild, Matthew. "Rich 1994 Interview from the Progressive." Modern American Poetry. (2000) 27 Oct 2004 .
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