Athens, Ga. – Renowned poet Adrienne Rich will read from her work on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Griffith Auditorium at the Georgia Museum of Art. The event is sponsored by the University of Georgia’s Creative Writing Program and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts; it is free and open to the public.
Rich is one of the major American poets of the last half of the 20th century. Publishing more than 16 volumes of poetry and four books of nonfiction, she has been the recipient of nearly every major literary award, including the National Book Award, the Tanning Award for Mastery in the Art of Poetry, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the MacArthur Fellowship. She also served as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
“There is no writer of comparable influence and achievement in so many areas of the contemporary women’s movement as the poet and theorist Adrienne Rich,” according to author Deborah Pope in The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States. “Over the years, hers has become one of the most eloquent, provocative voices on the politics of sexuality, race, language, power and women’s culture.”
Adrienne Rich was born in 1929 in Baltimore, Md. She attended Radcliffe College, graduating in 1951. At age 21, she was selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize for her collection A Change of World. Two years later, she published a second volume of poetry, The Diamond Cutters (1955). Throughout the 1960s, Rich wrote several collections, including Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963) and Leaflets (1969). During this time, the content of her work became increasingly confrontational as she explored themes of women’s role in society, racism and the Vietnam War. The style of her poetry also revealed a shift from careful metric patterns to free verse.
In 1973, in the midst of the feminist and civil rights movements, the Vietnam War and her own personal distress, Rich wrote Driving in the Wreck (1973) for which she received the National Book Award in 1974. Rich accepted this award on behalf of all women and shared it with her fellow nominees, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde. Since then, Rich has published numerous collections, including The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004 (2004), winner of the Book Critics Circle Award; Fox: Poems 1998-2000 (2001); Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998 (1999); Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995 (1995); Collected Early Poems: 1950-1970 (1993); An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991 (1991), a finalist for the National Book Award; Times’ Power: Poems 1985-1988 (1989); The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New 1950-1984 (1984); and The Dream of a Common Language (1978). Rich is also the author of several books of nonfiction prose, including: Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations (2001), What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (1993), and Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1986).
In 2006, Rich was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, with judges noting “her incomparable influence and achievement as a poet and nonfiction writer. For more than 50 years, her eloquent and visionary writings have shaped the world of poetry as well as feminist political thought.”
Rich’s recent works include an essay on “Poetry and Commitment” published by Norton in spring 2007, and a new book of poems titled Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth, appearing in October 2007. Over the years, Rich has taught at Swarthmore, Columbia, Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell, San Jose State and Stanford University.