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Adrienne Rich as Instigator

Though she was groomed to be part of the literary establishment, Rich's work broke every one of its rules. There is not a single feminist poet working today who does not owe some small corner of her platform to Rich's groundbreaking concerns. In this class, we'll consider her seminal collection Diving Into the Wreck, how her early work compares to her later work, and Rich's thought-provoking essays in an effort to make some overall insights into her canon and her legacy. 

Adrienne Rich as Instigator:
Activating a Feminist Poet's Canon

Taught by Sara Guest, M.A.


Thursdays, May 19 - June 9 || 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Social Justice Action Center || 400 SE 12th Ave
Four weeks, $95 || Space is limited to 20 students. 

Adrienne Rich died in 2012, leaving an unsurpassed canon of activist writings. Though she was groomed to be part of the literary establishment, Rich's work broke every one of its rules. She was angry and forthcoming and incendiary on the page, writing about women's rights, her sexuality and preferences as a lesbian, her times and her desires for change. There is not a single feminist poet working today who does not owe some small corner of her platform to Rich's groundbreaking concerns. In this class, we'll consider her seminal collection Diving Into the Wreck, how her early work compares to her later work, and Rich's thought-provoking essays in an effort to make some overall insights into her canon and her legacy. 


Week One: What is canon-building, and how can we view poetic practice in relation to this? These questions will be a point of entry for us to read and discuss Rich's collection, Diving Into the Wreck.

Week Two: Like most artists, Rich's work evolved over the course of her career. Yet, there are also some significant continuities in her body of work. This week, we will compare Rich's earliest work with some of her latest, discussing how her work both changed and didn't change over time. 

Week Three: Though Rich is primarily known as a poet, her essays give us a window into her incredible range as a thinker and an instigator. We'll read and discuss two of them this week.

Week Four: Building a feminist canon: what is Rich's poetic legacy, and how does it manifest in the work of other contemporary feminist poets?


Sara Guest, MA is a poet, literary facilitator, Delve guide with Literary Arts and volunteer facilitator with Write Around Portland. She has been lecturing and leading community-oriented literary courses for 20 years.


Photo by Neal Boenzi/New York Times Co./Getty Images via Creative Commons.