By the time of her death in 2012, Rich was a towering figure, an abstracted Great Poet and Important Feminist, whom The New York Times eulogized as “a poet of towering reputation and towering rage.” Some of this praise has made her sound like a statue, not a person.
Her radical feminist beliefs had a curiously distancing effect, often thought too blunt, too simplistic.
For Rich, this argument is still present, but she also approaches education from the point of view that more women receive education and the question becomes what to do with it.
Rich's belief is that where Woolf sought to equalize out opportunity, women in fact have to appropriate what is rightfully theirs within the social and education lexicon in order to establish their own identity.
But now, her mind seized up worse than her body ever had.
Even when she managed to overcome it, anxiety followed her down to the subway platform.
Her feminist politics bloomed suddenly into a very explicit sort of radicalism, the kind unafraid to march onto the pages of intellectual journals and complain that “the way we live in a patriarchal society is dangerous for humanity.” She also became famous. It was her ninth book of poetry, but its mixture of anguish and strength of conviction vaulted it past all her previous work.
Many of these poems were explicitly feminist in concern, as with “Trying to Talk With a Man,”With this book she won the National Book Award for poetry, tied with Allen Ginsberg.
Decades later, in 1977, Rich gave a lecture called "Claiming an Education," later published in the magazine , in which she argues that women (who, by the later twentieth century, were going to college in much higher numbers) must take responsibility for their equality in education; she asserts that instead of it.
She also recognizes how inherently sexist most fields still remain.