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 topics such as 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, when she read a statement written by herself and fellow nominees Alice Walker and Audre Lorde, "refusing the terms of patriarchal competition and declaring that we will share this prize among us, to be used as best we can for women."