Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mills mourns the loss of progressive poet and activist

Rich in 1975, a year after winning the National Book Award for “Diving into the Wreck.” (Source: Library of Congress)

Adrienne Rich, the powerfully influential poet and feminist whose work became the paramount voice for women’s liberation and lesbianism for the better half of a century, died on March 27 at her Santa Cruz home. She was 82.

Considered one of the best-known American intellectuals, the award-winning poet and essayist published over two-dozen books of poetry and more than a half dozen works of nonfiction in her 60 year long career. In a 1984 speech, Rich said that what she has fought for was simply “the creation of a society without domination.”

Rich’s work has had a long-standing influence over the Mills community and her death has brought a rush of sentiment from students, alumnae and faculty.


“Poetry isn’t revolution but a way of knowing why it must come”

– from “Dreamwood”


“She supported us in word and deed during the strike. We lost a very cool woman but she leaves us better off for her being a part of our world.”

– Alexa Pagonas,
Mills Alumna


“I choose to love this time for once with all my intelligence.”

 – from “Splittings”


“Adrienne Rich meant the world to me. She was the voice for so many of us, the voice of our generation, even. I would go to her for solace and for help. The moment you’re in need, she’s there.”

— Cynthia Scheinberg, Chair of English Department


“She was a fascinating person. She began for me a tradition of memorizing my favorite poems.”

– Kim Magowan,
visiting Assistant Professor and student of Rich,
Stanford, 1987