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Rich felt something “coming on very fast, capable of paralyzing my life.”The trouble seemed to pass quickly.Rich found a psychiatrist known for his clientele of writers and artists, Leslie Farber.In the years that followed, Rich began to cut ties with old friends, including some of her closest confidants.
I have never before had such a sense of the intensity of an attention which was not really trying to elicit anything but which therefore was able to receive the whole message.”What came out in those therapy sessions would surprise nearly everyone Rich had ever known.
It changed her life, her poetry, and her politics—a transformation that has hardly been traced before, because Rich herself often avoided direct discussion of the subject.
It positioned Rich as one of the foremost poets of her generation and a leading feminist thinker.
A young Margaret Atwood wrote that hearing Rich read from it “felt as though the top of my head was being attacked, sometimes with an ice pick, sometimes with a blunter instrument: a hatchet or a hammer.” A male reviewer called it angry, which it was, but women responded in droves because they were angry, too.
Within months, she would leave her husband of 17 years, the Harvard-trained economist Alfred Conrad.
Within a year, Conrad would drive up to the family’s house in Vermont alone, in a state of unarticulated despair. He bought a gun, went out into the woods, and shot himself.
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This "re-visioning the literature" phase is to work on both an intellectual and psychological level, something that Rich thinks has to be done in order to ensure that there is a complete acknowledgement of voice and not a socially imposed silencing of it.
One day in November 1969, Adrienne Rich, a poet known to other poets but not yet to the wider world, paused at the top of the steps in her sister’s house in Boston, overwhelmed by a sense of peril, until her sister came to help.