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This "re-visioning the literature" phase is to work on both an intellectual and psychological level, something that Rich thinks has to be done in order to ensure that there is a complete acknowledgement of voice and not a socially imposed silencing of it. One day in November 1969, Adrienne Rich, a poet known to other poets but not yet to the wider world, paused at the top of the steps in her sister’s house in Boston, overwhelmed by a sense of peril, until her sister came to help.Rich felt something “coming on very fast, capable of paralyzing my life.”The trouble seemed to pass quickly.
Farber told her he could give her medication but would prefer not to, that the best thing she could do was enter analysis and probe the sources of that deep compulsion.
In their first sessions together, Rich felt she could “risk entering certain zones more immediately than I could ever have done with someone I loved …
It seems hard for people to imagine that these ideas could be the result of a complex mind, a complicated experience.
And like many artists, Rich was wary of those who wanted to connect her work too closely to the shape of her life.
Decades later, in 1977, Rich gave a lecture called "Claiming an Education," later published in the magazine , in which she argues that women (who, by the later twentieth century, were going to college in much higher numbers) must take responsibility for their equality in education; she asserts that instead of it.
She also recognizes how inherently sexist most fields still remain.I have never before had such a sense of the intensity of an attention which was not really trying to elicit anything but which therefore was able to receive the whole message.”What came out in those therapy sessions would surprise nearly everyone Rich had ever known.It changed her life, her poetry, and her politics—a transformation that has hardly been traced before, because Rich herself often avoided direct discussion of the subject.By the time of her death in 2012, Rich was a towering figure, an abstracted Great Poet and Important Feminist, whom The New York Times eulogized as “a poet of towering reputation and towering rage.” Some of this praise has made her sound like a statue, not a person.Her radical feminist beliefs had a curiously distancing effect, often thought too blunt, too simplistic.Within months, she would leave her husband of 17 years, the Harvard-trained economist Alfred Conrad.Within a year, Conrad would drive up to the family’s house in Vermont alone, in a state of unarticulated despair. He bought a gun, went out into the woods, and shot himself.Her feminist politics bloomed suddenly into a very explicit sort of radicalism, the kind unafraid to march onto the pages of intellectual journals and complain that “the way we live in a patriarchal society is dangerous for humanity.” She also became famous. It was her ninth book of poetry, but its mixture of anguish and strength of conviction vaulted it past all her previous work.Many of these poems were explicitly feminist in concern, as with “Trying to Talk With a Man,”With this book she won the National Book Award for poetry, tied with Allen Ginsberg.In the years that followed, Rich began to cut ties with old friends, including some of her closest confidants.She left New York for the West Coast, where she would live for the rest of her life. She began to write more prose, revealing a talent for polemic.