Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Diving Into the Wreck” as Want to Read:
Diving Into the Wreck
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Diving Into the Wreck

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  5,369 ratings  ·  111 reviews
"I came to explore the wreck. / The words are purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail." These provocative poems move with the power of Rich's distinctive voice.
Paperback, 72 pages
Published August 17th 1994 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1973)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Diving Into the Wreck, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Diving Into the Wreck

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Second Sex by Simone de BeauvoirA Room of One's Own by Virginia WoolfThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Best Feminist Books
75th out of 1,162 books — 1,392 voters
The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
80th out of 1,568 books — 1,733 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Anthony Vacca
With language as clinically apocalyptic and claustrophobically dystopic as anything to be found in the postmodern nightmares of Ballard and DeLillo, Diving Into the Wreck rages against the heteronormative status quo as Rich points her poetic finger at men and women, both of whom bear the burden of guilt. These poems range across shifting tropes such as ecological destruction, commodification, Vietnam, dreams and violence to showcase Rich's belief that the domestic scene is as much a prison as th ...more
Stephen M

That's all. WOW.

I was thinking of writing some brilliant review to follow up the madness of inspiration banging around in my head after a day of reading. But, what can I say except that everyone should read this! I found the small amount of ratings of this book to be somewhat shocking considering how powerful it is. There were moments of tingly-goodness on almost every page. Only a few poems fell short for me, but that was only because of the other poems that towered over them. The ones that
I've read some of Adrienne Rich's poetry before, but not all. I came across this by chance in the library today, and decided to bring it home -- I knew Diving into the Wreck itself, but not all of the other poems. They're powerful, painful, beautiful. There are only a couple that didn't really speak to me.
MJ Nicholls
Exasperating and bleak poetry cycles about gender struggle and body politics. Not my usual parvenu, but I appreciated hearing this voice. On the bus.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 15, 2011 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: National Book Foundation
Shelves: poetry, read2011
I'm so glad the National Book Foundation drew my attention to Adrienne Rich. I wasn't familiar with her work, but I loved this short book of political, emotional, intense poems. I said in an e-mail to a friend that I wanted to take them along with me on a solitary road trip, and I think that is because I think they go very deep and I want to read them again and reflect on them. I will be purchasing this set, well probably all of her work.

Here is an excerpt of my favorite one, Waking in the Dark

Mike Lindgren
Finally got the combination of time and nerve to take on this landmark of American poetry, and was rewarded with a glimpse into the infinite. This book is ferocious in the way that early P.J. Harvey is ferocious: both feminine and feminist, full of rage and mysticism and sadness, a fearless, avenging voice of the dispossessed, a wail of freedom and grief. What strikes me about the poetry here is that it manages to be polemical, in a way, while also being effortlessly metaphorical; in other words ...more
Nicholas During
I've recently made an effort to read more poetry, something that I haven't done since school really. So I'm far from being a poetry expert and judging what makes good poetry. But I did love this collection from Rich. Yes, it's very political, radically political. Yes it's very feminist, radically feminist perhaps. And yes it is very personal (I think). Do all these things make good poetry. Of course not. But presenting interesting and original ideas in such superb style (in my base judgement) ma ...more
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the
Michael Shilling
Her death sent me back to this book, which changed my life like twenty years ago. Reading the title track brought tears to my eyes. So much ferocity paired with so much empathy.
William West
While I do read modern poetry from time to time, I consider myself a more naive reader of verse than any other genre. I don't have the vocabulary to convey why I feel the way I do about poetry. So, in this case, I just have to say that I loved this book. In fact, I can't think of any work of modern poetry, including works by more iconic- and male- poets than Rich, that I found as rewarding.
I had heard of Rich but never really thought of reading her until I heard an NPR story about her death. Th
Dec 26, 2008 Jennn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like strong imagery and dark, but well-written poems
Shelves: poetry
I'm so picky when it comes to poetry and it takes a lot to wow me. Right from the first page, this book starts out powerful and lasting with "Trying to Talk with a Man", Rich explaining in such vivid imagery "out here I feel more helpless/with you than without you".

The next poem, "When We Dead Awaken", maintains the same electricity and sting as the last (e.g. "the trash/burning endlessly in the dump/to return to heaven like a stain" and "souvenirs of what I once described/as happiness", and in
Like all of Adrienne Rich, her images are remarkably powerful. I liked some of her other books better though such as An Atlas of the Difficult World, The Dream of a Common Language, and A Wild Patience has Taken me This Far. Still, her poems move me deeply even though, as in this book, they are sometime hard to grasp. In the books I mentioned, I didn't find them as confusing. When I give it a second read perhaps it will be clearer to me.

1. Trying to tell you how
the anatomy of the park
through stained panes, the way
guerrillas are advancing
through minefields, the trash
burning endlessly in the dump
to return to heaven like a stain--
everything outside our skins is an image of this affliction:
stones on my table, carried by hand
from scenes I trusted
souvenirs of what I once described
as happiness
everything outside my skin
speaks of the fault that sends me limping
even the scars of my decisions
even the sunblaze in the m
I had a hard time giving this book only one star. Adrienne Rich is supposed to be meaningful, visionary, and unparalleled: only I don't see it.

This is the first time I've read this particular collection in several years, and I will admit that I found some more clever turns of phrase than I had expected. I have no problem accepting Adrienne Rich as a real poet, and for that I'd give her at least two stars. However, upon reading her poetry, I always have the urge to close the book. So a recognitio
When I was a young thing, I would save my pennies to buy everything Adrienne published. This is the pivotal book of poetry, the turning point from the earlier (and beautiful) formal poems into the rough territory of heart and world through which the later books move. Stellar.
I love this book. I was going to quote from it, but there are too many perfectly stated moments. "wood / with a gift for burning." Clean and methodical, but so flipping passionate. I feel like I just cast the starring role in the movie that will be my comps essay.
Jade Kranz
I feel a tremendous debt to Adrienne Rich. She was a smart woman with a strong voice at a time when such a thing was considered iconoclastic. This collection of poems cuts right to the core.
Taylor Quinn
I suddenly see the world
as no longer viable:
you are out there burning the crops
with some new sublimate
This morning you left the bed
we still share
and went out to spread impotence
upon the world

I hate you.
I hate the mask you wear, your eyes
assuming a depth
they do not possess, drawing me
into the grotto of your skull
the landscape of bone
I hate your words
they make you think of fake
revolutionary bills
crisp imitation parchment
they sell at battlefields.

Last night, in this room, weeping
I asked you: what
I've loved this book for 25 years...especially the poem "Stepping Backward."
Octavia Cade
There's some lovely imagery in here - lovely and surprising, sometimes. It's more difficult than it sounds, I think, to write surprising imagery. All too often "surprising" can be unintentionally silly, but in the poems of this collection - "August", for instance - it was like a door opening. I was left thinking "Oh. I've never thought of it that way before!" which is always an uplifting experience.

I think the poem "Translations" was my favourite. I've read a little of Rich before, but I'll cert
missy jean
Perfection, basically.
Sarai Lillie
Jul 12, 2015 Sarai Lillie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Sarai by: Random book choice
Shelves: own
This volume of poetry was absolutely gorgeous in every way. The lyrical quality and delicious word choices were brilliantly formed into the most thought provoking poems.

I read the entire book, in one sitting, out loud to my husband. We stopped over a couple to just sit in awe and discuss the beauty of it. Definitely one of the best book purchases I've ever made.

Adrienne Rich is now definitely one of my favorite poets. Worth a second reading, if for no other reason than to sink into the imagery a
Rated: harsh PG-13

You can tell a lot about a person by their poetry. I confess to knowing nothing about this author, if she’s alive or dead. The main thing I took away is that she seems lost and confused, brittle and prickly. Because of that, her poetry appeared too choppy and bewildered to really enjoy. But perhaps that’s what makes people like it, though.

It wasn’t absolutely terrible. I liked a few of her poems. But most of them were violent and distraught.

Would I recommend it? No. But that’s
Apr 07, 2008 Will rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: poetry
1973's Diving into the Wreck, a collection of poems dated between 1971 and 1972, marks a middle style in Adrienne Rich's development as a poet. In it, we find Rich abandoning her earlier structuralism and adopting more experimental poetic forms; these new uniquely organic forms frame her poems around a wealth of second-wave feminist ideology, and attempting to hone an unencumbered feminine dialect, Rich's use of language is aimed at expanding the province of poetry to carry political as well as ...more
Nov 02, 2008 Shannon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mikkee, Melissa L.
Recommended to Shannon by: My 21 year old self
Shelves: poetry
Poetry reads very differently from a novel. While that may be stating the obvious, it's the reason I gave this book three stars instead of four. For readability, it gets a three, for writing it merits at least a four.

It was interesting to go back and re-read this book of poetry, which I read for the first time during my senior year of college. Because I read this book as a part of a class, there were notes in the margins on my thoughts for some of the poems. It was enlightening to see how my rea
Many surprising language moments and turns. A good deal of strength behind a understated, almost mocking anger. I write that line and think, what the heck does that even mean? Some lines that represent this for me are: "computing body counts, masturbating / in the factory / of facts" or "... your eyes / assuming a depth / they do not possess, drawing me / into the grotto of your skull."

But, really, the poems are able to stay in focus and not drivel over the edge (and so able to keep their edge)
Sam Poole
Not perfect but close enough. This is the quintessential Adrienne Rich and there are few, if any, missteps. The sexuality, rage, love and hate mix and leave behind an extraordinary collection. Truly remarkable. My favorite poems are the title work, "August" and the outstanding "Phenomenology of Anger".
I'm perpetually torn with Rich. There's a studied, formal quality to even her mid-career, furious work - and I rarely enjoy tight-wound poetry, at least on a sort of affective level. My other frustration with Rich is that she can envision striking images, but so many of her poems seem to me to be endless series of absolutely disconnected images, and not in a surrealist, avant-garde way, either. Just disjointed attempts at stating the same idea again and again, which can be tedious. The latter pa ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Country Between Us
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • The Dead and the Living
  • The Collected Poems
  • The City in Which I Love You
  • What We Carry
  • The Moon Is Always Female: Poems
  • The Wild Iris
  • The Work of a Common Woman: The Collected Poetry of Judy Grahn, 1964-1977
  • Life Studies and For the Union Dead
  • Geography III
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • Transformations
  • Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems
  • The Book of Nightmares
  • Elegy
  • What the Living Do: Poems
  • My Alexandria
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929). Born to a middle-class family, Rich was educated by her parents until she entered public school in the fourth grade. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College in 1951, the same year her first book of poems, A Change of World, appeared. That volume, chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and her next, The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems ...more
More about Adrienne Rich...

Share This Book

“I don't trust them but I'm learning to use them.” 78 likes
“ look at me like an emergency” 69 likes
More quotes…