Poet Adrienne Rich dead at 82

March 29, 2012 at 8:29 PM
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NEW YORK, March 29 (UPI) -- Poet and civil-rights activist Adrienne Rich has died of complications of rheumatoid arthritis at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif., her family said. She was 82.

One of the most influential writers of the feminist movement, Rich penned 24 volumes of poetry and more than half-a-dozen of prose.

Her life as a Jewish lesbian informed her work, which largely addressed identity politics, The New York Times said.

The Baltimore-born author was honored with the National Book Foundation's medal for distinguished contribution to American letters in 2006, a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1994 and a National Book Award for poetry for her 1973 masterwork "Diving Into the Wreck."

She famously turned down the U.S. government's National Medal of Arts in 1997, stating she objected to the "increasingly brutal impact of racial and economic injustice" that the government had chosen to honor "a few token artists while the people at large are so dishonored," the Times noted.

Rich taught at Columbia, Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell and Stanford universities, and her most recent book, "Tonight No Poetry Will Serve," was published last year.

Survivors include her partner of more than 30 years, writer Michelle Cliff; three sons, David, Pablo and Jacob, from her marriage to the late Harvard economist Alfred Haskell Conrad; a sister, Cynthia Rich; and two grandchildren, the Times said.

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