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RIP Adrienne Rich, feminist poet, 82

(L-R) Audre Lorde, Meridel Lesueur, and Adrienne Rich at a writers workshop in Austin, Texas, in 1980.
(L-R) Audre Lorde, Meridel Lesueur, and Adrienne Rich at a writers workshop in Austin, Texas, in 1980.
K. Kendall/flickr

Adrienne Rich, called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century," in the "Anthology of Modern American Poetry," died Tuesday at the age of 82 at her home in Santa Cruz.

Her socially conscious verse influenced a generation of feminist, gay rights and anti-war activists. her son says she died of died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis.

Through her writing, Rich explored topics like women's rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice, and love between women. Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems "Diving into the Wreck" in 1974. In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection "The School Among the Ruins."

Let's remember her legacy with one of her poems that seems appropriate, although of course many people are mourning her passing right now.

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

My swirling wants. Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the notations.

They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.

I want you to see this before I leave:
the experience of repetition as death
the failure of criticism to locate the pain
the poster in the bus that said:
my bleeding is under control

A red plant in a cemetary of plastic wreaths.

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way.