The Breaking of Taboo

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Adrienne Rich was a very critically acclaimed and widely read poet of her era. Ms. Rich was a rebellious pioneer in expressing her viewpoints through her poetry in what was considered highly taboo topics of her time, such as, politics, lesbianism, and feminism.

Adrienne Rich was born on May 16, 1929 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father was renowned pathologist at John Hopkins University, Dr. Arnold Rich, and her mother Helen Elizabeth Rich, was a concert pianist and composer. Adrienne began writing at a very early age, with the encouragement of her father. As a child, she grew up reading works from her fathers extensive library from Tennyson, Keats, Arnold, Blake, Rossetti, Swinburne, Carlyle, and Patter (Booth).

Adrienne attended A. B. Radcliffe College and graduated in 1951. In her final year at Radcliffe, her collection, “A Change of World”, was selected by, W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets award.

In 1953, Adrienne married Alfred Conrad, an economics professor at Harvard, whom she had met while she was an undergraduate student at Harvard. During their marriage, they had three children, David, Paul, and Jacob. In the mid 60’s Adrienne became very involved in Vietnam anti war protests, feminist, and civil right issues. As time went on, Alfred thought she was losing her mind because of her obsession and devotion she had to these causes. This created quite a bit of tension in their marriage. In 1970, she separated from Alfred, which lead to his suicide a few months later.

Rich’s early works were very traditional and structured. Her style mirrored the poets who she read extensively as a child. As Rich progressed in her writings, her styled changed drastically. Rich took on a dialogue, and free verse style. This ...

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