CSULA Department of English | Events

Adrienne Rich will be the guest reader at the 2008 Jean Burden Poetry Reading. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 6:30pm in the Golden Eagle Ballroom. 

Since receiving the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1951 (from judge W.H. Auden), at the age of 21, Adrienne Rich has not stopped writing in her distinct voice, with strength and conviction. 

Portrait Photo of Adrienne Rich

photo credit: Lilian Kemp

Rich has said that her poetry seeks to create a dialectical relationship between "the personal, or lyric voice, and the so-called political — really, the voice of the individual speaking not just to herself, or to a beloved friend, but to and from a collective, a social realm."

"Adrienne Rich’s poems, volume after volume, have been the makings of one of the authentic, unpredictable, urgent, essential voices of our time. All of her life she has been in love with the hope of telling the utter truth, and her command of language from the first has been startlingly powerful."

---W. S. Merwin

Her poetry and prose are taught in literature, creative writing, and gender and gay studies courses across the country and abroad. Her National Book Critics’ Circle Award citation explains: "Rich has captured with subversive wit, compassion, precision, supple poetics, toughness and yes, opposition and resistance, what life has been like in the opening years of a new century. How we’ve been under siege in insidious ways at home while waging war abroad. Rich writes of disruption, dislocation, disconnection. But she is also ravishingly lyrical, inventive, philosophical, sensual. She makes things whole again."

Adrienne Rich is the recipient of the 1999 Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been distinguished by an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Common Wealth Award in Literature, the National Book Award, the 1996 Tanning Award for Mastery in the Art of Poetry, and the MacArthur Fellowship. In 2003, Adrienne Rich was awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry. 

She is the author of more than sixteen volumes of poetry, including, Diving into the Wreck, The Dream of a Common Language, The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001, An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991, Collected Early Poems: 1950-1970, Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995, Midnight Salvage, Fox, and The School Among The Ruins, as well as the prose book Of Woman Born. She has also authored five books of non-fiction prose, including Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution and What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (2003). Her most recent book of essays is entitled Arts of the Possible: Essays & Conversations. She edited Muriel Rukeyser’s Selected Poems for the Library of America (2004) and has published essays on the letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, on June Jordan and James Baldwin, and a preface to Manifesto: Three Classic Essays On How to Change the World (Ocean Press, Australia, 2005). Her collection, The School Among the Ruins, was honored with the National Book Critics Circle Award and was chosen as one of Library Journal’s Best Poetry picks of 2004. It was also selected to receive the 2006 San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award (judge, Mark McMorris). 

In 2006, Adrienne Rich was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. The judges articulated this distinction as follows: "Adrienne Rich…in recognition of her incomparable influence and achievement as a poet and nonfiction writer. For more than fifty years, her eloquent and visionary writings have shaped the world of poetry as well as feminist and political thought." Her essay on "Poetry and Commitment" was published by Norton in spring 2007, in a small book with Mark Doty’s introduction at the National Book Foundation event. Adrienne Rich’s new book of poems is Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth (October 2007).

This event is made possible by the CSULA Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, the Department of English, and the College of Arts and Letters.

For more information, call the Cal State L.A. English Department at (323) 343-4140.

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