SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- Poet Adrienne Rich, whose socially conscious verse influenced a generation of feminist, gay- rights and anti-war activists, has died. She was 82.

Rich died Tuesday at her Santa Cruz home from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.

Through her writing, Rich explored women's rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems "Diving into the Wreck" in 1974. In 2004 she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection "The School Among the Ruins."

She had first gained national prominence with her third poetry collection, "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law," in 1963. Citing the title poem, University of Maryland professor Rudd Fleming wrote in The Washington Post that she "proves poetically how hard it is to be a woman -- a member of the second sex."

She and her husband had three sons before she left him in 1970, just as the women's movement was exploding on the national scene. She used her experiences as a mother to write "Of Woman Born," her groundbreaking feminist critique of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, published in 1976.

Rich believed art and politics should not be separate and considered herself a socialist.

She taught at many colleges and universities, including Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell, San Jose State and Stanford.

Rich won a MacArthur "genius" fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships and many top literary awards. She refused a National Medal of Arts in 1997, citing the Clinton administration's "cynical politics" and "radical disparities of wealth and power in America."-- AP

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