Adrienne Rich’s poems are works you turn to when the fog of stress grows too thick and the static too loud, when the world seems cruel and senseless. Rich’s poems are windows thrown open, candles lit, the kettle lifted from the stove. For more than 50 years Rich wrote inquiring, riling, enlivening, daring, and masterful poems, filling more than two dozen collections, among them Tonight No Poetry Will Serve, Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth, and The School Among the Ruins.
Rich wrote shrewd and provocative prose, too, as in Arts of the Possible, in which she describes herself as “a poet of the oppositional imagination.” A poet who paid keen and skeptical attention to the controlling rhetoric, be it commercial or governmental. A poet fascinated by the way we fall in obsessive love with technology and with how our machines and gadgets are altering language, relationships, and the very sound, look, and feel of daily life. Rich watched the world, cared about the world, and interpreted the world from her triad of perspectives: as a woman, a Jew, and a lesbian. From her first book onward, she captured the zeitgeist with subversive wit, compassion precision, supple poetics, toughness, opposition, and resistance, all while being ravishingly lyrical, inventive, philosophical, and clarion.