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Diving Into The Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 Paperback – August 17, 1994

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Voyage of the Sable Venus
2015 National Book Awards - Poetry Winner
Get your copy of this year's National Book Award winner for poetry, "Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems" by Robin Coste Lewis. Hardcover | Kindle book | See more winners

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"It is hard to overestimate the importance of Rich's work in the landscape of contemporary poetry and in the writing of women's experience and lesbian experience," notes LJ reviewer Christian.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Diving into the Wreck is one of those rare books that force you to decide not just what you think of it, but what you think about yourself. It is a book that takes risks, and forces the reader to take them also. . . . You feel about her best images, her best myths, that nobody else writes quite like this. (Margaret Atwood - New York Times Book Review)

The poet is telling of something now standing before her eyes of which her heart is full. . . . These poems are not loose facts, they are parts of a revelation. (Richard Howard - Harper's)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 62 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (August 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393311635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393311631
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) is an American poet, writer, feminist thinker, and activist in progressive causes. In a career spanning seven decades she wrote and published two dozen volumes of poetry and over a half-dozen of prose. Rich's poetry includes the collections Diving Into the Wreck, The Dream of a Common Language, A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far, An Atlas of the Difficult World, The School Among the Ruins, and Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth. Her prose work includes the collections On Lies, Secrets, & Silence; Blood, Bread, & Poetry; an influential essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," and Of Woman Born, a scholarly examination of motherhood as a socio-historic construct. She received the National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for Diving Into the Wreck, and was a finalist an additional three times, in 1956, 1967, and 1991. Other honors include a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1994, the Academy of American Poets' Wallace Stevens Award, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award, and the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1997 she turned down the National Medal for the Arts to protest the growing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands, writing to the NEA that "anyone familiar with my work from the early Sixties on knows that I believe in art's social presence--as breaker of official silences, as voice for those whose voices are disregarded, and as a human birthright."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lucia on December 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You must be willing to dive into your own wreck, get soaking wet, risk getting the bends, and triumph in surviving when you jump
into Adrienne Rich's poems from the early 70's. If there were no date noted on this book, one could place them in the present.
Rich's metaphors hold true even though forty years have passed. Today, my favorite is the one about Talking to the Dead. I think because it
reminds us of all those lost to us as we approach year's end: the ones we loved and the ones we didn't even know. It asks what happens to all that love that doesn't stop
simply because the loved one is gone. Does it rush away like water? Flood the land? Does it burn like embers not quite extinguished?
On a more universal level, we might think of all the potential wasted in needless death, an interpretation that expresses Rich's precept that
the personal is always political. Reflecting on all of the levels of Rich's meaning can give us the means to survive our own wrecks and be willing
to dive with her.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Adrienne Rich is one of America's best poets, and this is certainly her best collection. To use the word "angst" to describe these poems (as a previous reviewer did) is to diminish these works of volcanic beauty. This collection reads very well as an organic whole, but some of the best individual poems are "Incipience," "The Stranger," and, of course, the title poem. Common themes of awakening and discovery run through this book; I wish that every women would read these poems. Rich finally shakes free of the masculine poetic establishment and rejects male mythology as she writes:
A man is asleep in the next room/ We are his dreams/ We have the heads and breasts of women/ the bodes of birds of prey/ Sometimes we turn into silver serpents
Rich dives into the wreck and comes out transformed. Don't miss this opportunity to explore your own wreck.
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Format: Paperback
Best read with some background knowledge. Rich is sometimes called a "political poet," so keep that in mind and you'll get so much more from her work. Diving Into The Wreck in particular has much deeper meaning than may be first apparent. That being said, Rich is absolutely brilliant. It's a great collection- graceful and intelligent.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Judith M Wallace on October 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
The poems that are included in this book are particulary noteworthy for their angst. Rich weaves words into powerful images that portray her stuggle as a woman, a lover, and as a human being.
This collection of poems was written during the early years (1971-72) of her career as a poet. Although the imagery and voice are understandably not as clearly defined as in her recent work, this book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the development of poetic voice and style.
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