One of the foremost poets and thinkers of the 20th century, Adrienne Rich, has died, SF Chronicle book editor John McMurtrie reports via Twitter. In addition to winning loads of awards for her work, she was also an anti-war, civil right, and feminist activist.
Through over fifty years of public introspection and examination of society and self, Adrienne Rich has chronicled her journey in poetry and prose. "I began as an American optimist," she commented in Credo of a Passionate Skeptic, "albeit a critical one, formed by our racial legacy and by the Vietnam War...I became an American Skeptic, not as to the long search for justice and dignity, which is part of all human history, but in the light of my nation's leading role in demoralizing and destabilizing that search, here at home and around the world. Perhaps just such a passionate skepticism, neither cynical nor nihilistic, is the ground for continuing."
She was also a fabulous lesbian.
Whenever the death of an esteemed poet blips on our radar, this line from Sweeney Todd's "A Little Priest" — wherein the two main characters bandy back and forth about which profession would make for the tastiest meat pie — pops into our head: "No, you see, the trouble with poet is how do you know it's deceased?"
We're probably misinterpreting Sondheim's gem of a line, but... it works here.
Rich was 82.