Part of chapter on Adrienne Rich from forthcoming “With Robert Lowell and His Circle” see below.

  Robert Lowell introduced me to Adrienne Rich in 1959.  Adrienne was the young woman poet whom Robert Lowell admired the most.  He held out her writing as an example to me of something to work toward. And he cared desperately about her good opinion of him, which she withheld in the later years of his life.
     Adrienne Rich had won the Yale Younger Poets Prize with her first book of poem. She was at that time a formally classical poet with restrained feeling.  She had a clear, noble, crystalline quality to her work and a strong, opinionated way of looking at poetry.  Her sleek feathered hair and focused glint created an impression of a proud young eagle.  Her career had already launched itself, splendidly. She had a suppressed impatience about her being, a hardly tamed striving that showed itself only in fine strain marks about the eyes. She suffered from painful arthritis, even than. I was too terrified to tell her that I was interestd in writing.
     She asked me to be a babysitter for her three young boys. They ran me ragged!  But it was worth it; just to listen to Adrienne, who always had me sit in the kitchen and have tea with her when she came back home.
     Although as an undergraduate at Radcliffe, Adrienne had already won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her first collection of poems, Harvard University would not allow her to attend its upper level English level classes. Professor Harry Levin and others maintained that the upper level courses with the “real” professors at Harvard were reserved for the men; the Radcliffe girls could make do with the teaching assistants.
     We stayed in touch, and I followed Adrienne’s work closely. I admired her strong uncompromising spirit.

Copyright Kathleen Spivack

Leave a reply

There are no icons to display.