Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Diving into the Wreck

Adrienne Rich Reading "Diving into the Wreck"

In Rich’s book Diving into the Wreck there was also a poem titled “Diving into the Wreck.”  The poem illustrates a quest to rewrite the cultural understanding of gender.  The poem seems to be describing a diver examining what they have only known as a myth.  Yet, half of the poem is devoted to the steps the diver takes in order to get close to the wreck, rather than actually seeing the wreck.  Alice Templeton wrote, “the poem’s attention to the process of exploring the wreck and not the analysis of the wreck.”  This analysis is about the routine of the diver in order to reach the objective.  Further in the poem Rich writes, “I am she: I am he” (77). This makes the speaker androgynous and puts both sexes at the same level, as if differences were non-existent.  More broadly, Margret Atwood writes, “This quest- the quest for something beyond myths, for the truths about men and women, about the ‘I’ and the ‘You,’ the He and the She or more generally . . . about the powerless and the powerful.”  She suggests that the objective of the poem, and other’s in the collection, are about finding the actualities of gender differences rather than what has been discerned in the past.  Instead of letting society and culture decide the differences, or lack of differences, the diver takes it upon themselves to find the certainties and to describe the process in how they will go about this. This personal responsibility for cultural issues is shown when the speaker states, “the thing I came for: / the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth” (62-64).  Rich has taken the idea of a quest and applied it to the connotations surrounding gender.  Rich wanted to take the idea of gender and equalize the differences.

Rich, Adrienne Cecile. “Diving into the Wreck,” Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972. Norton &  Company, 1973.

From Modern American Poetry Website, Templeton, Alice. The Dream and the Dialogue:             Adrienne Rich’s Feminist Poetics. Copyright @ 1994 by the University of Tennessee Press.

From Modern American Poetry Website, Atwood, Margaret. The New York Times Book Review (1973).

Modern American Poetry Critique

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