Adrienne Rich, poet and lesbian activist

Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich is one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century. In his work emphasizes its transgressive use of language, his brilliant analysis of the status of women and his critique of patriarchy and capitalism. Representative of the second-wave feminism, denounced discrimination of class, racial and towards women, especially lesbians. His article ‘compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence’ and, especially, his book ‘Born Women: the crisis of motherhood as an institution and as experience’ (1978) are fundamental texts for the feminist movement in the United States and Latin America.

Rich was born on May 16, 1929 in Baltimore (USA) in a white middle class family. His childhood and youth were marked by racial segregation in his hometown and World War II. In college he met many refugees from the Nazi Holocaust.

Before turning 30, wrote ‘pictures snapshots of a daughter’, his criticism of the marginalization of women in Western culture. In this work of 1963, very autobiographical, she questions her identity as a woman and contradictions experienced as a mother and wife in the 50s.

According to Adrienne Rich he said in an interview, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King jr. and all the Movement for Civil Rights, along with anti-war groups, the Movement of Liberation of Women and the Gay-Lesbian Movement modeled their “participatory, critic and activist” spirit, very linked to artistic creation “and both require the radical imagination of what is not yet, of what if? “. “Of these movements, and the people I met then, he learned the possibilities of a committed art,” said the journalist Paulo da Costa, who explained the importance in his life of feminism

“I was born under an education based on class and skin color as well as being a woman, which led me to question, to seek new methods, and for years I was doing this alone. I had I been asking, “What is a woman, what does it mean to be a poet woman?” .; “The women’s movement came at a very important moment in my life. There was a whole political movement asking those same questions and others that he had never raised me. I began to feel heard. But it was because my voice resounded with other voices. ”

In 1976, Adrienne Rich ’21 publishes poems of love ‘in response to the famous romantic poems of Pablo Neruda. Here there is no desperate song but eroticism and love between women, challenging the literary tradition and giving voice to lesbians, “suppressed” (to paraphrase Virginia Woolf) by history and square blank by culture. These lines would be included in the book ‘The dream of a common language’, published two years later;. 1976 is also the year in which he wrote ‘Born of woman’ essay on motherhood leaning on his personal experience. Four years earlier he had divorced her husband and father of three children, born between 1955 and 1959, also in 1976 he met the writer and editor Jamaican Michelle Cliff great love and sentimental companion until his death, at age 82, on 27 March 2012 at his home in Santa Cruz, California.

In 1997, Rich, who has won numerous awards for his poetry and his political consciousness, refused the National Medal of Arts to protest the cultural and social policies of President Bill Clinton. It was the only artist to date to do so. In the letter he wrote declined the prize

“In the last two decades have witnessed the impact, increasingly brutal, racial and economic injustice in our country. There is no simple formula that relates art to justice, but I know that art does not mean anything if you just decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage. ”

(Sources: ‘Modern American Poetry’, Adrienne Rich, Anthology of Modern American Poetry (Oxford) Article ‘Adrienne Rich, venerated poet of feminism’..)