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Adrienne Rich was born in 1929 in Baltimore, MD and is the author of nearly twenty volumes of poetry, including Diving into the Wreck, which won the National Book Award for poetry in 1974. She was a Finalist an additional three times, in 1956, 1967 and 1991, and is also the author of several books of nonfiction prose.
Her first book, A Change of World, was published through the Yale Younger Poets series, as selected by W.H. Auden. She moved to New York in 1966 and began teaching a remedial English class for poor, black and third world students entering college. Her involvement in social justice movements has played into her work, but it was the feminist movement that most heavily influenced her.
Her poetry has won her two Guggenheim Fellowships, the first Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship, lifetime achievement awards from the Lannan Foundation and the William Whitehead Award, among others. In 1997 she refused a National Medal for the Arts, saying “I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration.” In 2003 she refused to attend the White House symposium on “Poetry and the American Voice” along with fellow poets in protest of the Iraq war.
Adrienne Rich passed away on March 27, 2012.