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The first comprehensive biography of Adrienne Rich, feminist and queer icon and internationally revered National Book Award winning poet. Adrienne Rich was the female face of American poetry for decades. Her forceful, uncompromising writing has more than stood the test of time, and the life of the woman behind the words is equally impressive. Motivated by personal revelatio The first comprehensive biography of Adrienne Rich, feminist and queer icon and internationally revered National Book Award winning poet. Adrienne Rich was the female face of American poetry for decades. Her forceful, uncompromising writing has more than stood the test of time, and the life of the woman behind the words is equally impressive. Motivated by personal revelations, Rich transformed herself from a traditional, Radcliffe-educated lyric poet and married mother of three sons into a path-breaking lesbian-feminist author of prose as well as poetry. In doing so, she emerged as both architect and exemplar of the modern feminist movement, breaking ranks to denounce the male-dominated literary establishment and paving the way for the many queer women of letters to take their places in the cultural mainstream. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished materials, including Rich's correspondence and in-depth interviews with numerous people who knew her, Hilary Holladay digs deep into never-before-accessed sources to portray Rich in full dimension and vivid, human detail.


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The first comprehensive biography of Adrienne Rich, feminist and queer icon and internationally revered National Book Award winning poet. Adrienne Rich was the female face of American poetry for decades. Her forceful, uncompromising writing has more than stood the test of time, and the life of the woman behind the words is equally impressive. Motivated by personal revelatio The first comprehensive biography of Adrienne Rich, feminist and queer icon and internationally revered National Book Award winning poet. Adrienne Rich was the female face of American poetry for decades. Her forceful, uncompromising writing has more than stood the test of time, and the life of the woman behind the words is equally impressive. Motivated by personal revelations, Rich transformed herself from a traditional, Radcliffe-educated lyric poet and married mother of three sons into a path-breaking lesbian-feminist author of prose as well as poetry. In doing so, she emerged as both architect and exemplar of the modern feminist movement, breaking ranks to denounce the male-dominated literary establishment and paving the way for the many queer women of letters to take their places in the cultural mainstream. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished materials, including Rich's correspondence and in-depth interviews with numerous people who knew her, Hilary Holladay digs deep into never-before-accessed sources to portray Rich in full dimension and vivid, human detail.

30 review for The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography (2020) is an exceptional work of literary achievement by scholar Hilary Holladay that covers the life and writing of the late feminist literary icon. Rich, an acclaimed award winning poet, educator/professor lectured and gave readings in standing room only venues, and at prestigious colleges and universities. The book also highlights a multitude of literary friendships and events of historical and cultural value. Adrienne C. Rich (1929-2012) was the beloved The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography (2020) is an exceptional work of literary achievement by scholar Hilary Holladay that covers the life and writing of the late feminist literary icon. Rich, an acclaimed award winning poet, educator/professor lectured and gave readings in standing room only venues, and at prestigious colleges and universities. The book also highlights a multitude of literary friendships and events of historical and cultural value. Adrienne C. Rich (1929-2012) was the beloved child prodigy of Dr. Arnold Rich, who taught at John Hopkins Medical School, his wife Grace Jones Rich, was a classic pianist composer that taught Adrienne how to read and play Mozart on the piano by her fourth year. When she was six, her first book of stories and poems was published. It was unfortunate that Adrienne was always given preferential treatment over her sister Cynthia (1933) who was clearly less valued. As adults, although the sisters had a great deal in common, and would have benefited by a close relationship, they were permanently estranged. After her admission to Radcliffe (1947), Rich thrived academically under the direction of her famous mentor (gay) socialist editor/critic Professor F.O. Matthiessen (1902-50). By her senior year she was chosen to receive the Yale Younger Poets Prize for “A Change of World” (1951). In addition she received an award from the Guggenheim Foundation to study abroad at Oxford. Suddenly, Rich dropped her heartbroken fiancee and began a new romance with Alfred Conrad (m.1953-70). “Alf” was ideal for her, and was certainly her intellectual equal. He was handsome, charming and innovative, though at times seemed distant, preoccupied, and superficial around others. The Conrad’s were Jewish, and Arnold Rich (who denied his own Jewish heritage) strongly disapproved of the relationship. After meeting her goals of marriage, and admission to the Harvard elite, Rich was dismayed over the social norms and expectations of faculty wives to promote their husbands career over their own. After their sons were born, even with domestic help, Rich was resentful of the demands that motherhood placed on her art and career. Alf was unable to attain tenure at Harvard, and the family moved to NYC after he accepted a tenured position at CUNY. Rich was by that time an outspoken public figure, a radical feminist against oppression of women, patriarchy, and the war in Vietnam. The loss of Alf to suicide was devastating. Despite assurances from family, friends and her therapist Rich felt responsible for Alf’s death-- her friend, poet/professor Hayden Carruth (1921-2008) provided comfort through her deep depression. It wasn’t surprising that coming out as a lesbian was an empowering and enchanting experience for Rich. “Twenty-One Love Poems” (1976) was widely celebrated, Holladay revealed the name of Rich’s first closeted mysterious lover, few people (understandably) knew her name. Rich met her permanent partner Michelle Cliff (1946-2016) an American-Jamaican author/editor while working on a book. Together, Rich and Cliff often submitted pieces for the feminist publication Sinister Wisdom (1976-). Throughout the years, Rich was awarded honorary degrees and numerous prestigious awards. With Alice Walker and Audre Lorde (1934-92) Rich accepted the National Book Award on behalf of (minority) women writers (1973). The Clinton administration awarded Rich The National Medal of Arts (1997) that she declined. Holladay thoughtfully reviewed Rich’s writing and poetry throughout the book and was without judgment of her character flaws. Rich dropped friends without notice and was fiercely intolerant of those who didn’t share her views. Though she appeared frail as she aged, she was a commanding presence with strong voice at the lectern, as her writing remains a part of American literary history. **With thanks to the Seattle Public Library.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    Adrienne Rich was, and remains, a popular poet: She won the Yale Younger Poets prize in her very early twenties, catapulting her into immediate fame in literary circles; in the 1960s and 70s her strong association with the women's movement greatly broadened her audience; and eventually her longevity and substantial body of excellent work garnered her poetry's highest honors and places on many a university syllabus. So it makes sense that this, the first full-length biography of Rich, would be wr Adrienne Rich was, and remains, a popular poet: She won the Yale Younger Poets prize in her very early twenties, catapulting her into immediate fame in literary circles; in the 1960s and 70s her strong association with the women's movement greatly broadened her audience; and eventually her longevity and substantial body of excellent work garnered her poetry's highest honors and places on many a university syllabus. So it makes sense that this, the first full-length biography of Rich, would be written for a general (poetry-loving) audience rather than a scholarly one. Adrienne Rich had the blessing and curse of a long and interesting life, and Holladay mostly lets that life speak for itself in clear, direct, and blessedly nonfussy prose. There's none of the exhaustive explication of Rich's poetry that you'd find in a more academic biography, but Holladay does make an effort to link Rich's work (both poetry and prose) to what was happening in her life at the time—and those are exactly the sorts of connections fans of Rich's poetry might most look for and appreciate in a book like this. I have a few reservations: First and foremost, Holladay too often falls back on words like "cold," "frosty," and "chilly" to describe Rich; at one point she describes Rich's anger as a "fit of pique." To be frank, language like this is generally used to describe women and serves to invalidate whatever they were feeling and going through at the moment; it's simplistic and inherently sexist. I expected better from a biographer of a feminist poet. What's more, there seems to be an inordinate focus on arguments Rich had with her friends. Rich lived for more than eight decades and it makes sense that not every friendship survived that entire time—to imply there's something iffy about Rich's character because she didn't hang on to every friend she'd ever made until death is unfair, particularly when Rich isn't here to tell her side of the story. Still, despite this, I enjoyed The Power of Adrienne Rich. Like many literary biographies, it's on the long side, but my interest in it never flagged. Rich's long and varied life would, in and of itself, be fascinating to most of her admirers, and the fact that Holladay managed to preserve that fascination in this biography is more than enough reason to recommend it. I received this ARC via NetGalley. Thank you to the publisher.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ada

    Entrar a la vida d'algú durant tants dies crea una sensació tan fascinant com esgotadora. És una experiència intensa i reveladora, absolutament absorbent. A més a més, en aquest cas, ha estat una mena de comiat. M'he acomiadat de l'Adrienne Rich que havia viscut dins el meu cap des que vaig saber d'ella el 2012 (poc després de que morís), i he conegut l'Adrienne Rich més de carn i ossos. Sé que dir això és una mica cursi, però què hi farem. La biografia, com a tal, està molt bé. Es llegeix de ma Entrar a la vida d'algú durant tants dies crea una sensació tan fascinant com esgotadora. És una experiència intensa i reveladora, absolutament absorbent. A més a més, en aquest cas, ha estat una mena de comiat. M'he acomiadat de l'Adrienne Rich que havia viscut dins el meu cap des que vaig saber d'ella el 2012 (poc després de que morís), i he conegut l'Adrienne Rich més de carn i ossos. Sé que dir això és una mica cursi, però què hi farem. La biografia, com a tal, està molt bé. Es llegeix de manera fluïda i hi ha molta i molt bona documentació. Indaga tant en la vida com en l'obra i mostra la immensa complexitat de l'autora.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Schulman

    This first biography of Adrienne Rich serves, in a sense, as Volume One. It is strongest on her birth family, early life, and her time inside the poetry establishment in Cambridge. Where the book is weak is on the details of her debates and experiences inside the lesbian communities that she inhabited- and the politics and poetics of foundational publications like Chrysalis (one confusing anecdote) and Sinister Wisdom. Her most important work "Compulsory Heterosexuality" is barely mentioned. The This first biography of Adrienne Rich serves, in a sense, as Volume One. It is strongest on her birth family, early life, and her time inside the poetry establishment in Cambridge. Where the book is weak is on the details of her debates and experiences inside the lesbian communities that she inhabited- and the politics and poetics of foundational publications like Chrysalis (one confusing anecdote) and Sinister Wisdom. Her most important work "Compulsory Heterosexuality" is barely mentioned. The actual content of her relationships with Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Margaret Randall, Susan Griffen etc are barely touched on. This invites other scholars to do further work. The book does have some very good gossip: Sylvia Plath was jealous of Rich and said she made her "retch in the wastebasket", Rich's first lesbian relationship was with her thera[ist, who was an ex-lover of Susan Sontag, and Rich and Sontag slept together AFTER Sontag called her anti-intellectual in the NY Review of Books. Also of great interest is the revelation of Rich's alcoholism, and the severe addiction of her partner of 36 years, Michelle Cliff, who -despite being twenty years younger- died four years after Rich- of alcoholism. Including a chilling story of Cliff seeking help from Maureen Brady and Judith McDaniel and Rich dismissing AA and not supporting her efforts towards sobriety. IN line with the alcoholism is some alcoholic behavior of grandiosity, punitive treatment of friends for minor conflicts etc. While the privileges of her childhood and the competitive ambition instilled by her parents are described in detail, the story of Rich's punishment by the poetic establishment and critical authority when she made lesbian reality the subject of her work, could also use more detail. Very interesting is the author's investigation of Rich's embrace of Jewish identity (assimilated Jewish father, Christian mother, no religious background)-partially as a consequence of her partner, Michelle Cliff's, life's work on living a Jamaican identity, while being light-skinned. The photos are also disappointing. No photo of Rich and Cliff together, none with her lesbian communities. I learned a great deal from this book, but much more is needed to evoke the period and the role of this woman in how it saw itself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Review TK

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    While there is much of interest in this first bio of Rich, it's also notable for what's missing. Rich apparently supported the author of a book called The Transsexual Empire, a book that's considered highly transphobic. The book isn't even mentioned here. As Rich was someone whose beliefs and values evolved throughout her life, it would have been interesting to know her stance on trans people by the end of her life. I was also taken aback at how little there is about Rich's life as a mother. Give While there is much of interest in this first bio of Rich, it's also notable for what's missing. Rich apparently supported the author of a book called The Transsexual Empire, a book that's considered highly transphobic. The book isn't even mentioned here. As Rich was someone whose beliefs and values evolved throughout her life, it would have been interesting to know her stance on trans people by the end of her life. I was also taken aback at how little there is about Rich's life as a mother. Given that she wrote Of Woman Born, I expected much more about that part of Rich's life, especially given Rich's difficult relationship with her own mother.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    The first major biographies of literary figures are rarely satisfactory, and The Power of Adrienne Rich shares some of the standard problems: a much clearer picture of the early and mid-careers, a tendency to elevate one set of standards (in this case feminist) in commenting on a multi-faceted career, and an over-reliance on sources who provided access to parts of the story. Holladay skims over Rich's late career--as many books as she'd written through Dream of a Common Language--in about 10% of The first major biographies of literary figures are rarely satisfactory, and The Power of Adrienne Rich shares some of the standard problems: a much clearer picture of the early and mid-careers, a tendency to elevate one set of standards (in this case feminist) in commenting on a multi-faceted career, and an over-reliance on sources who provided access to parts of the story. Holladay skims over Rich's late career--as many books as she'd written through Dream of a Common Language--in about 10% of the book, which reenforces the common, but in my judgement absolutely inaccurate belief that her late work marks a decline. Despite that, the book's well worth reading for its clear, for the most part non-sensationalistic, detailing of the poet's personal life, and the way she negotiated her rise to fame. There'll be other books to come--Ed Pavlic has a book on the later work coming out in 2021--but Holladay provides a sold base for a more definitive biography.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J

    Absolutely STUNNING biography of an oft-overlooked queer American poet who “[ate] men like air.” A vivid portrait of an incredible modern visionary and woman of letters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rianna

    I came to this book, perhaps a bit misguided in my expectations. I was in need of a reconciliation, between the Adrienne Rich whose Diving in the Wreck kicked off my Feminist and Queer Theory course and the Adrienne Rich who supported Janice Raymond's writing of The Transsexual Empire, which my class picked apart and decried as dangerous, hateful propaganda. As many have pointed out, Holladay's book skips out on acknowledging Rich's assumed transphobia and while using Raymond as a source, doesn' I came to this book, perhaps a bit misguided in my expectations. I was in need of a reconciliation, between the Adrienne Rich whose Diving in the Wreck kicked off my Feminist and Queer Theory course and the Adrienne Rich who supported Janice Raymond's writing of The Transsexual Empire, which my class picked apart and decried as dangerous, hateful propaganda. As many have pointed out, Holladay's book skips out on acknowledging Rich's assumed transphobia and while using Raymond as a source, doesn't identify the particular "contributions" Raymond made to the radical feminist movement she identified with. While I'm conscious that this is my own particular interest and Holladay as a biographer had no obligation to fulfill it, I do think my experience speaks to some of the faults of the book. The examination of Rich's contributions to feminist thought outside of her poetry is limited. We are given little context of the movement that Rich eventually distances herself from. In a section on Rich's editing of an anthology, Holladay quotes a critic as saying the anthology is a portrait of the anthologist. The review is a portrait of the critic. I found it distracting at many times how much this biography is a portrait of Holladay. Holladay's seeming disinterest on issues of race and disability cause much of Rich's life and career to be ignored or more oddly at times, to be sneered at (the contempt for Michelle Cliff, a Jamaican woman was shocking to me at times). I wished for more patience for the young Rich, out of her controlling father's home for the first time, and for the older Rich, creating, traveling, and loving after decades of living with rheumatoid arthritis. There is so much more to write. I felt Holladay's admiration throughout, I just wanted to feel her empathy as well.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maeve

    Particularly strong analysis of Rich's life post-TDOACL this is an inspiring read that confidently documents a complicated and brilliant poet. Hard to believe Rich hasn't been the subject of a full biography before. Particularly strong analysis of Rich's life post-TDOACL this is an inspiring read that confidently documents a complicated and brilliant poet. Hard to believe Rich hasn't been the subject of a full biography before.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barb Thomas

    I've been waiting years for a Rich biography, and I thoroughly enjoyed Holladay's book and appreciate the research that went into it. With that said, I finished feeling like it was more of a snapshot of Rich's life. Rich's privileged life came through strong and her relationship with her father was certainly a thread throughout the book. Sadly, Rich came across as cold and somewhat manipulative, which I suppose could be a result of her upbringing and a coping mechanism to protect herself. There I've been waiting years for a Rich biography, and I thoroughly enjoyed Holladay's book and appreciate the research that went into it. With that said, I finished feeling like it was more of a snapshot of Rich's life. Rich's privileged life came through strong and her relationship with her father was certainly a thread throughout the book. Sadly, Rich came across as cold and somewhat manipulative, which I suppose could be a result of her upbringing and a coping mechanism to protect herself. There was very little mention about her three boys or her sister, and I was hoping for more of a deeper dive into her relationships with Michelle Cliff, June Jordan, and Audre Lorde. The last 10 years of Rich's life (ages 72-82) were almost the most productive years of her writing career, yet it seemed like Holladay was eager to wrap it all up, which is unfortunate and in my opinion, and a reflection of the ageism in our society.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Clayre Benzadon

    Many of the previous comments argue that this biography doesn’t cover enough—of course, to cover a whole person’s life (especially a poet of this grandeur) is perhaps almost impossible—however, I have to praise this book for the way it is beautifully written, every single page. Biographies can sometimes be difficult to read because there can be moments that get a little boring / tangential. This was not the case with this book. I also appreciate how the author seems to have painted a multidimens Many of the previous comments argue that this biography doesn’t cover enough—of course, to cover a whole person’s life (especially a poet of this grandeur) is perhaps almost impossible—however, I have to praise this book for the way it is beautifully written, every single page. Biographies can sometimes be difficult to read because there can be moments that get a little boring / tangential. This was not the case with this book. I also appreciate how the author seems to have painted a multidimensional portrait of Adrienne Rich, which include holding the more appealing and less-so facets of her personality together: as overachiever and one who felt like she needed to gain her father’s approval, a woman who held so much power but also hid so much (psychical and metaphorical) pain. This book has been a true gift to read (and if only I had the chance to meet Rich...)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter Buchanan

    Ms. Holladay tackled a difficult subject. She directed criticism when needed. She made few excuses for Adrienne Rich’s challenging personality. She expertly analyzed her work. She provided multiple points of view on Ms. Rich at every stage of her life. She didn’t make big leaps based on the content of the source material. Her tone drew me in, and it never strayed from the perfect mix of scholarly and readable. In truth, there’s nothing I would change.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Who was Adrienne Rich? I'm not sure I know, even after reading this interesting biography. She seems remote, difficult, and hard to know or like. Surely that is partly a true description; but this book makes oddly little use of her own words, describing or sometimes just asserting what she was thinking at any given moment in her life, so she feels hidden behind an opaque glass. I wanted to read this book as soon as possible after reading Red Comet, as Plath and Rich were essentially contemporarie Who was Adrienne Rich? I'm not sure I know, even after reading this interesting biography. She seems remote, difficult, and hard to know or like. Surely that is partly a true description; but this book makes oddly little use of her own words, describing or sometimes just asserting what she was thinking at any given moment in her life, so she feels hidden behind an opaque glass. I wanted to read this book as soon as possible after reading Red Comet, as Plath and Rich were essentially contemporaries and Plath was attentive to and envious of Rich's early success. The two women were extraordinarily different, but both were powerful and driven. After reading both books, I feel like I have a better sense of and sympathy for Plath, and I'm sure it's partly due to how the books were written. This book is reasonably good at summarizing the development of, and collapse of, second wave feminism in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. So much was familiar (perhaps for someone who didn't live through this, the summary would not have made much sense!) - authors whose work I dimly remember reading, publications I subscribed to, even at least one person mentioned whom I'm sure I briefly knew, and all the subjects of intramural controversy. The civil war over pornography in the 80s seem to have radically altered Rich's relationship to feminism in the same way it did mine, although for her it happened in public. When she came down on the side of anti-censorship, for the same reasons I did, she angered many friends and lost many. (As an aside, the comments of Catharine MacKinnon, about how the antiporn ordinances were not dangerous to feminist or gay publishers, because they were civil rather than criminal laws, seem insanely naive viewed from today, when being able to sue a person or business in civil court is a well established way to destroy them.) One thing that makes Rich hard to get hold of as a thinker is how she handled the evolution of her politics and her philosophy. She was forever rewriting her own life from the point of view of her current stage of evolution, and although you'd think this would leave behind a more coherent thread to follow, the reverse seems to be true. Besides jettisoning her past selves, she often jettisoned friends when they couldn't follow her where she went, and refused awards with sharp words when she felt they made her a token successful woman in a patriarchal system. Despite all her self-reinvention, even at the end of her life she was thinking about her husband, who committed suicide just as she was leaving him. I found it very strange how her sons seemed to almost vanish from her life as teenagers - I am not sure if this is a function of how the book is written or if in fact she set them up in their own place in New York before they were completely grown, and then wasn't much in contact. Late in the book Holladay mentions a lot of contact with her boys, and it comes as a bolt out of the blue - where have you been for 30 years??? I'm not sure what's up with that. In a late essay ("Credo of a Passionate Skeptic," LA Times, March 2001), Rich made comments that I was really struck by. Prior to the advent of social media and fake news, she said that in the early 70s if she wanted to discuss her personal experience in an academic talk it felt borderline unacceptable. Then, feminists said the personal was political and began to assert the value of their own experience in describing the world, which led shortly to the promotion of "personal and private" solutions by the mainstream and the denigration of "collective action and collective realities." Then, "By the late 1990s, in mainstream American public discourse, personal anecdote was replacing critical argument; true confessions were foregrounding the discussion of ideas. A feminism that sought to engage race and colonialism, the global monoculture of United States corporate and military interests, the specific locations and agencies of women within all this was being countered by the marketing of a United States model of female - or feminine - self-involvement and self-improvement, devoid of political context or content." AND HOW. Thank goodness she didn't have to experience the 2016 election. This insight is Rich at her best - perceiving relationships among phenomena, pointing them out, and considering the implications. Rich suffered from rheumatoid arthritis from her early 20s until she died at age 82, and was increasingly disabled by it. However, I find it grating and weird that Holladay chooses repeatedly to use the word 'crippled' in this context. I am not sure why she made this choice, I thought that pejorative word for physical impairment was long thrown out of the thoughtful person's vocabulary. I wish she had chosen not to use this word, be prepared to stumble over it several times. This was not a bad book. However, I want someone else to write a different one so that I can get a better idea of who Adrienne Rich really was. Skimming the existing reviews I find that the 3 and 4 star ones have some of the same objections that I did. Go take a peek at them!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Allen

    This was a wonderful book about a wonderful poet-- I cried during the prologue learning about Adrienne's relationship with her father and her at-home education by him-- and I cried at the end when she died and then her partner died. In between, I was amazed at Rich's tenaciousness, her changing politics (which are mirrored by my own), her amazing creativity, her pain, her relationships. This book doesn't hold back and it doesn't try to paint Adrienne as a perfect person or heroine-- it really sh This was a wonderful book about a wonderful poet-- I cried during the prologue learning about Adrienne's relationship with her father and her at-home education by him-- and I cried at the end when she died and then her partner died. In between, I was amazed at Rich's tenaciousness, her changing politics (which are mirrored by my own), her amazing creativity, her pain, her relationships. This book doesn't hold back and it doesn't try to paint Adrienne as a perfect person or heroine-- it really shows her as a person, flaws and all. As an aside, I never knew there were so many awards, fellowships, scholarships and the like-- which, it seems like she "won" them all-- except, as the book shows, she worked hard for the honors. I love Rich and have read probably 80% or more of her writings, delving into the artists mentioned in her footnotes and her various friends' works-- and I loved this book, didn't want it to end at all, and will be rereading it soon. Excellent book and the first of its kind about Rich-- and the long wait for this book was totally worth it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Curtis

    I was in the mood for a literary biography or memoir that inspires and educates. Other than generally knowing that Adrienne Rich was an influential poet, essayist, and feminist, I had only scratched the surface of her poetry. I knew little of Rich's evolution. However, Hilary Holladay's biography is a great introduction, and dare I say, juicy. Knowing what I know now, I can't wait to take a deeper dive into Rich's bibliography. Specifically, Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law, Diving into the Wreck, I was in the mood for a literary biography or memoir that inspires and educates. Other than generally knowing that Adrienne Rich was an influential poet, essayist, and feminist, I had only scratched the surface of her poetry. I knew little of Rich's evolution. However, Hilary Holladay's biography is a great introduction, and dare I say, juicy. Knowing what I know now, I can't wait to take a deeper dive into Rich's bibliography. Specifically, Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law, Diving into the Wreck, Twenty-One Love Poems, Time's Power: Poems 1985-1988, An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991, and Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    Pretty good, though suffers a good deal by comparison to the wonderfully written and encyclopedic new bio of Sylvia Plath. This felt a little thin, as if there was mounds of interesting stuff hidden behind the stick furniture. Had a sense that poetry mostly was presented in terms of content, and that usually biographical. Once Rich became a committed feminist, I felt the narrative sort of lost a certain sympathy with her.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annadís

    Many years ago I read Adrienne Rich's book Of Woman Born and it had a a profound effect on me. This biography traces AR life trajectory, the various people who shaped her, how she developed as a poet, writer and feminist and her strong need to leave a mark on the world. It is beautifully written; with great empathy and respect without sugarcoating AR's personality and relations with significant others. Thank you for this brilliant book. Many years ago I read Adrienne Rich's book Of Woman Born and it had a a profound effect on me. This biography traces AR life trajectory, the various people who shaped her, how she developed as a poet, writer and feminist and her strong need to leave a mark on the world. It is beautifully written; with great empathy and respect without sugarcoating AR's personality and relations with significant others. Thank you for this brilliant book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Holmes Espineira

    Adrienne Rich was one of the first feminist poets I read, and I was also fortunate enough to take a class she co-taught with her partner, Michelle Cliff, when I was an undergrad at Stanford. I was excited to read Hilary Holladay's comprehensive biography and trace the development of Rich's extraordinary life and career. It was a pleasure to revisit some of the verses I still know by heart, and understand more fully the personal, political, and literary context in which she worked. Adrienne Rich was one of the first feminist poets I read, and I was also fortunate enough to take a class she co-taught with her partner, Michelle Cliff, when I was an undergrad at Stanford. I was excited to read Hilary Holladay's comprehensive biography and trace the development of Rich's extraordinary life and career. It was a pleasure to revisit some of the verses I still know by heart, and understand more fully the personal, political, and literary context in which she worked.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ribbqah

    I have admired Adrienne Rich for many decades, mostly for her poetry regarding pregnancy and motherhood. Interesting read but her choices and the ramifications are just not that interesting to me. It was well written and documented but did not engage me. Perhaps I have changed as I age.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Braue

    Interesting in many parts, especially her relationship with Sylvia Plath and with her father, but I wish I found the subject as interesting and alluring as its author did.

  22. 4 out of 5

    andrea freud

    what's here is welcome but it left me thrusting for more. what's here is welcome but it left me thrusting for more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chauna Craig

    A provocative, well-researched biography of an important poet and feminist in the U.S. Engaged me in thinking (again) through the value(s) of poetry in this country. I took notes!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Stilson

    I had never heard of her before. Obviously I am not well educated in poetry. Just really didn’t find it very interesting

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marian Urquilla

    Well done. Revelatory. So much to rethink.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    3,5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laurie sharp

    Fantastic!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz Scheier

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