A Poet of ‘Oppositional Imagination’
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Published in: November-December 2021 issue.


Adrienne Rich’s Expanding Solitudes
by Ed Pavlic
U. of Minnesota Press. 232 pages, $24.95



THE CALM, beautifully aged face of the poet Adrienne Rich gazes at the reader from the new book by her friend, Ed Pavlic, who explains that his relationship with Rich began when she (as a contest judge) chose his first book of poems for a prize, and they began exchanging letters in 2001.

            Adrienne Rich (1929–2012) had a long and distinguished career as a poet and writer of nonfiction. Her early formalist poems of the 1950s seemed to fit the Zeitgeist of postwar American culture and of her own life as the wife of a Harvard economics professor and the mother of three sons. Her involvement in a variety of social justice movements in the ’60s was reflected in her poetry as well as her nonfiction, and she began moving in feminist and lesbian circles. In 1970, her husband committed suicide after she moved out of the home they had shared. In 1976, she began a relationship with Jamaican-born writer Michelle Cliff, which lasted until Rich’s death in 2012. Rich continued to write poetry and influential essays well into the 21st century.

            Ed Pavlic acknowledges the long arc of Rich’s development as a writer who always engaged with current cultural trends and who never underestimated the difficulty of social change.

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Jean Roberta is a widely published writer based in Regina, Saskatchewan.


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