Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) is an American poet, writer, feminist thinker, and activist in progressive causes. In a career spanning seven decades she wrote and published two dozen volumes of poetry and over a half-dozen of prose. Rich's poetry includes the collections Diving Into the Wreck, The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose work includes the collections On Lies, Secrets, & Silence; Blood, Bread, & Poetry; an influential essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," and Of Woman Born, a scholarly examination of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. She received the National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck, and was a finalist an additional three times, in 1956, 1967, and 1991. Other honors include a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1994, the Academy of American Poets' Wallace Stevens Award, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award, and the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1997 she turned down the National Medal for the Arts to protest the growing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands, writing to the NEA that "anyone familiar with my work from the early Sixties on knows that I believe in art's social presence—as breaker of official silences, as voice for those whose voices are disregarded, and as a human birthright."