Adrienne Rich, known for her passionate antiwar poetry and her fierce defense of women's rights and the rights of the underprivileged, died Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz. She was 82 and had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for years.
Born in Baltimore, the daughter of a renowned pathologist and a concert pianist, Rich won a National Book Award in 1974 for her collection, Diving into the Wreck, and 30 years later won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for The School Among the Ruins.
Rich also won a MacArthur "genius" Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and other top literary awards while teaching at such institutions as Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell, San Jose State, and Stanford. In 1997, she refused to accept a prestigious National Medal for the Arts, telling then-President Clinton by letter that the widening and "radical disparities of wealth and power in America" prevented her from accepting.