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Diving Into the Wreck

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  6,116 Ratings  ·  160 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)
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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
Anthony Vacca
Jun 09, 2014 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
May 12, 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
Shinjini Dey
During my 1st year of college I discovered Rich and a man scoffed at me when I expressed my enthusiasm. I still don't understand him.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 25, 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

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.
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.
Feb 08, 2017 Luke rated it it was amazing
What a punch to the gut. This is feminist poetry that is a must-read for members of both sexes. Some of the powerful imagery conveyed here by Rich is etched into my mind, not soon to be forgotten. I'm sorry it took me this long to get around to reading her, but better late than never.
Rebecca Foster
I don’t think I understood or appreciated this as much as I wanted to. I sensed a profundity under the surface that escaped my grasp. My favorite individual poem was the multi-part “Meditations for a Savage Child,” inspired by the Wild Boy of Aveyron. Though written 45 years ago, the poems of feminist outrage seem just as relevant today: “my visionary anger cleansing my sight / and the detailed perceptions of mercy / flowering from that anger.” An example is “Rape,” where she shows how sexual as ...more
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.
Jan 11, 2017 Kirsty rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, january-2017
Diving Into the Wreck is a collection of Adrienne Rich's poems written between 1971 and 1972. The subject matter throughout is incredibly dark, in an 'all roads lead back to the Holocaust' manner - so much so that several of the poems gave me chills. Rich's prose is striking, and she presents such vivid imagery here, a lot of it markedly unpleasant, it must be said. I didn't love every poem, but I certainly admired them all. Diving Into the Wreck is filled to the brim with strength after strengt ...more
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
Apr 30, 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 07, 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
May 31, 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."
Oct 19, 2016 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does the primeval forest / weep / for its devourers / does nature mourn / our existence
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
Brent Mckay
Dec 09, 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
Amanda Butler
Aug 31, 2013 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.
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.
I've loved this book for 25 years...especially the poem "Stepping Backward."
Jul 10, 2012 Allyson rated it it was amazing
Slayed me.
missy jean
Aug 11, 2012 missy jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Perfection, basically.
Jennifer Collins
Dec 29, 2016 Jennifer Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Rich is one of those poets whose works I never tire of. Whether read quickly or drifted through, the poems resonate with her skill and with worthwhile meaning. Maybe even more than in her other collections, the poems in Diving into the Wreck allow for both fast surface-level reads that are themselves enjoyable, but welcome readers who'll be willing to live with them and re-read them. There's such depth to each of them, and such care with language, that they bear up under each further moment a re ...more
Jan 08, 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
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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
More about Adrienne Rich...

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“I don't trust them but I'm learning to use them.” 93 likes
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