Internationally acclaimed poet and Santa Cruz resident Adrienne Rich broke boundaries of identity, representation, and activism in the literary world for decades. Now Hilary Holladay explores Rich’s life—including details contributed by many Santa Cruz figures—in the most definitive biography yet of her journey to becoming a queer activist who used poetry to blaze new paths of feminism. There isn’t a day that goes by that Bookshop doesn’t miss our dear friend or isn’t inspired by her work. Now everyone has a chance to learn about her seminal life and legacy.
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 Drawing on a wealth of unpublished materials, including Rich's correspondence and in-depth interviews with numerous people who knew her, Hilary Holladay digs deep into never-before-accessed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.
About the Author
HILARY HOLLADAY is a biographer, novelist, poet, and scholar of modern and contemporary American literature. She is the author of five books and coeditor of two others. Her most recent novel, Tipton, was nominated for the 2015 Virginia Literary Prize in fiction. Her biography American Hipster was a 2014 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Former director of the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for American Studies and professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Holladay is coeditor of a volume of critical essays on Kerouac's On the Road. She lives in Orange County, Virginia.
“Adrienne Rich was a seeker, and in this incisive, insightful biography Hilary Holladay illuminates her complex life and work with keen skill and grace, tracking the sources of her lifelong quest to become one of our truest and most determined makers, a great citizen-poet, a self-interrogating warrior for social justice. It is a generous, powerful book.” --Edward Hirsch, author of Gabriel: A Poem
"Gripping from the get-go. Hilary Holladay has delivered a courageous and exquisitely crafted biography of Adrienne Rich that is destined to stand as the definitive work on the poet for decades to come." --Evelyn C. White, author of Alice Walker: A Life
“This, simply put, is a marvelous biography. In the hands of Hilary Holladay—herself a gifted poet—The Power of Adrienne Rich shines with insights into the writing life, and into the tortured trajectory of this poet, scholar, and feminist icon. Rich’s slow awakening from a somewhat prim, l950s-era, father-pleasing writer to one of her generation’s most influential lesbian/feminist/activists is a tale told here with wit and clarity. Rich’s struggle to find and to fully inhabit herself gives us a lucid history of an era, and of the tangled strands of mid-century American poetry. With grace and precision, Holladay analyzes, invokes, illuminates. Seldom has a poet’s life been so compellingly told.” --Nancy Schoenberger, author of Dangerous Muse and The Whitechapel Arias
"The multiple identities of this powerful and prophetic poet are explored in this beautifully written and deeply researched biography. She is daughter and wife, mother and feminist, lesbian, Jew, and invalid. But for Rich, it was her art which defined her identity." --Dana Greene, author ofElizabeth Jennings: The Inward War and Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life
"Acknowledging that Rich’s own endless search for selfhood was at the root of her curiosity, Holladay depicts her ongoing work with language—transcending genre—to uncover what it means to be a person and belong to a community." --Observer