Adrienne Rich Essays

Language, too, remains on trial for its duplicitous nature.The book’s title poem, one of the 20th century’s most significant poems, uses an androgynous diver to examine a culture wrecked by its limited view of history and myth.As with Leaflets and The Will to Change, this book’s tone ranges from critical to accusatory.When Diving into the Wreck was awarded the National Book Award in 1974, Rich rejected the prize as an individual but accepted it, with a statement coauthored by Audre Lorde and Alice Walker, on behalf of all unknown women writers.The form of her poems has evolved with her content, moving from tight formalist lyrics to more experimental poems using a combination of techniques: long lines, gaps in the line, interjections of prose, juxtaposition of voices and motifs, didacticism, and informal expression.

In 1956 she began dating her poems by year: I did this because I was finished with the idea of a poem as a single, encapsulated event, a work of art complete in itself; I knew my life was changing, my work was changing, and I needed to indicate to readers my sense of being engaged in a long, continuous process.

Three poems in The Diamond Cutters – “Picture by Vuillard,” “Love in the Museum” and “Ideal Landscape” – question the version of reality offered by art, while “Living in Sin” depicts a woman’s growing dissatisfaction with her lover and living situation.

Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963), which reflects the tensions she experienced as a wife and mother in the 1950s, marks a substantial change in Rich’s style and subject matter.

Rich’s next three books – Necessities of Life (1966), Leaflets (1969), and The Will to Change (1971) – reflect the social upheaval of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Like other poets of her generation, such as Denise Levertov, Robert Bly and W. Merwin, she wrote poems protesting the Vietnam War, particularly in Leaflets.

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