Adrienne Rich

Relevant Background

Adrienne Rich was born into a well-off, professional family in 1929 in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Adrienne was the elder of two daughters. Her father was a medical doctor and pathology professor and her mother was a music composer and pianist.
She grew up with an awareness of tension at home between the religious and cultural heritage of her father's Jewish background and her mother's southern Protestant background.
Rich recalls being dominated by her father while growing up. He taught Rich to write poetry, but there were growing tensions as he expected her to conform to his formal and traditional ideas of poetry.
Eventually Rich broke free of her father’s influence and   composed poems that reflected on the domestic and everyday reality of her life. She refused to believe that poetry could be divorced from daily life.
Rich has published over twenty volumes of poems and essays, edited influential lesbian-feminist journals, and lived a lifetime of campaigning for issues.
In 1951, Rich graduated from university and also won the much esteemed Yale Younger Poet’s Prize for her first volume of poetry:   ‘A Change of World’. The poet, W. H. Auden, the judge of the award, praised Rich's elegant technique, traditional and formal approach, and restrained emotional content.
Rich's early poems showed the influence of great male poets: Frost, Yeats, Stevens and Auden. Ironically this contributed to her early renown as a poet.
Rich gradually developed a distinctive poetic voice, reflecting on her experience as a woman feeling oppressed by inequality.
While certain poetic movements have concentrated on the isolated inner self, or on the exquisite delight of exercising the   craft of poetry, in isolation from worldly concerns, Adrienne Rich has always written poems on great public themes. Her voice is consciously public, as a witness, commentator and advocate for change.
Before evolving her more challenging social ideas and experimental methods,...