Adrian Oktenberg (1947 - 2014)

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NORTHAMPTON - Adrian Theo Oktenberg (a.k.a. Rose Basile), born Sept. 19. 1947, passed away Sunday, May 18, 2014, of complications from rheumatoid arthritis. A poet, literary critic and feminist scholar, she lived in Northampton since 1992. Her project on Elizabeth Bishop remains unfinished.

She authored the acclaimed poetry collections, "The Bosnia Elegies" and "Swimming With Dolphins", as well as the groundbreaking article in the Women's Rights Law Reporter "Lesbian Mothers". As a literary critic, she wrote extensively about contemporary poetry, including landmark essays about Adrienne Rich. Recipient of awards from The Astraea Foundation, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, she also worked as an attorney in New Jersey, received her master's of fine arts in poetry at Columbia University, and her bachelor's degree from Bennington College, where she apprenticed with painter Adolph Gottleib. The apprenticeship was her favorite job. In addition to learning about painting and composition, Gottleib introduced her to the art of the pastrami sandwich, a lifelong gastronomic joy.

In the 70's, she ran an independent bookstore, directed women's studies at Evergreen College, and in 1992 founded the feminist literary press, Paris Press, named for her mother, Roma Florence Paris, which she directed until 1995.

A true intellectual, she educated friends, acquaintances, and the compassionate staff of Linda Manor in Leeds, where she died.

She is survived by her devoted friend Jan Freeman; friends Ruth Gundle, Aleta Mason, and Emily Wojcik; her brother Paul Basile; and niece Susan Valley.

A private burial was held in May in Ashfield. A memorial celebration of her life and work will take place Saturday, June 28 at 3 p.m. at the Curtis House on South Street in Ashfield. Please RSVP at

Donations in her honor may be made to the nonprofit literary publisher Paris Press at P.O. Box 487, Ashfield, MA 01330.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on June 19, 2014
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