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Diving Into the Wreck

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,873 Ratings  ·  139 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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Anthony Vacca
Jan 04, 2015 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it
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
Sep 12, 2011 Stephen M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, textbook

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
May 31, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
When Diving Into the Wreck co-won the the 1974 National Books Award for Poetry (shared with Allen Ginsberg's The Fall of America ) Rich refused to accept the award alone, instead accepting the award accompanied by two other female nominees, Alice Walker (nominated for Revolutionary Petunias: And Other Poems ) and Audre Lorde (nominated for From a Land Where Other People Live ). In her acceptance speech, Rich stated that she was accepting the award on behalf of all woman "whose voices have gon ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
Apr 23, 2012 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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.
MJ Nicholls
Apr 19, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: merkins, poems, distaff
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 it was amazing
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

Jan 04, 2016 Christy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminists, poets
This poet takes risks on every page as she examines the struggles of women as she felt them in the early 1970s. She does not hold back with her reflections, many of which I reread to comprehend all of the layers. I am so glad this book was recommended to me.
Mike Lindgren
Dec 17, 2012 Mike Lindgren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
May 02, 2012 Nicholas During rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 28, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mfa-reading-list
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
Jun 07, 2012 Jade Kranz rated it it was amazing
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.
Michael Shilling
Mar 30, 2012 Michael Shilling rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 30, 2015 melis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kitaplığım, 2015

"—tell it over and over, the words
get thick with unmeaning—
yet never have we been closer to the truth
of the lies we were living."
Brent Mckay
Dec 12, 2015 Brent Mckay rated it it was amazing
Stunning, dark collection, full of images of water rushing, flames overwhelming, sexuality arriving and disappearing. Everything around her is either combustible or on the verge of death, wilting or igniting under the horror of it all.

" feel the fiery future of every matchstick in the kitchen"
"while we sit up smoking and talking of how to live, he turns on the bed and murmurs"
"...the fire you want to go to bed from but cannot leave, burning down but not burnt down."

The word "burning"
William West
Apr 30, 2012 William West rated it really liked it
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 it was amazing
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
Oct 04, 2015 Bradley rated it liked it
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.
Jun 20, 2016 Erica rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Reread in an attempt to think about/make peace with Hilary Clinton (don't analyze that as a political tactic. It doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Just let it go.) Still can't really get my head around it but worth reading, at any time, for any reason.
Jan 13, 2008 Claire rated it did not like it
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
Amanda Butler
Jan 02, 2015 Amanda Butler rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I rated this book 5 stars because each poem is insightful in its own way with metaphors and descriptions that are both mystical and easy to understand. Adrienne Rich also writes many poems of feminism and the harmful patriarchy; this book thus becomes a safe place for women. This is a book of poetry about a woman understanding both women and men.
Lauren Kelly
Jul 08, 2016 Lauren Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-and-plays
This book of poetry subsumes any other I have read. The poems are difficult; one must dig for meaning. I'm not sure I understood all of them in full, but felt their power nonetheless. I am really glad I looked up some interpretations and reviews of the poems as I was reading this collection.
Margaret Atwood's 1973 review in the NYT Book Review was especially great.

"The wreck she is diving into, in the very strong title poem, is the wreck of obsolete myths, particularly myths about men and women.
I don't read a lot of poetry, but picked this book up for a reading challenge and because it was on another member's list for the challenge. I had a hard time with it for several reasons: I don't remember much about the era in which it was written as that period of history was not yet on my radar and I do feel like an older reader would be able to relate and understand the topics better; some imagery is so graphic and painful to think about and that was not what I had been expecting; the concept ...more
Taylor Quinn
Jul 13, 2014 Taylor Quinn rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2016 Sara added it
I haven't read poetry with any sort of regularity since college so I made it one of my 2016 reading resolutions to make more time for it. Oftentimes I have trouble concentrating on poems; despite the beautiful and unique use of language my mind wanders, like it does when listening to music. But that wasn't an issue with Adrienne Rich's commanding voice. A quick glance at the titles will give you an idea of her larger aim: "Trying to Talk with a Man," "Translations," "Rape," "For a Sister," "From ...more
I finally finished this wonderful book of poems tonight. Unfortunately, reading it over so very much time, my thoughts are a tad jumbled, but here goes. Diving into the Wreck is a masterpiece. Rich's poems are gorgeous, like in the first poem, "Trying to Talk with a Man": "Out in this desert we are testing bombs, // that's why we came here. // Sometimes I feel an underground river" and heartbreaking--"Rape" is a chilling depiction, creating an instantaneous need to throw it skittering across the ...more
I've loved this book for 25 years...especially the poem "Stepping Backward."
Octavia Cade
Jan 12, 2015 Octavia Cade rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Aug 11, 2012 missy jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Perfection, basically.
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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
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“I don't trust them but I'm learning to use them.” 87 likes
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