Adrienne Rich's "Diving into the Wreck"

Resource Kit by
Joshua Logan Wall

Module Content



Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) was among the most widely acclaimed and prominent American poets of the late twentieth century. Born in Baltimore to a Jewish father and a Protestant mother, her poetry and essays explored the tensions and dualities of Jewish, feminist, lesbian, and political identities in the United States. Rich came to prominence early, winning the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1951. In the 1970s, her poetry and political activism became even more intertwined after she came out; her prose from this period has had an important influence on contemporary queer theory, gender theory, and feminism.

“Diving into the Wreck,” one of Rich’s most well-known poems, appeared in a National Book Award-winning 1973 volume of the same title, now considered a turning point in her career. The resources in this kit use this poem as a way for students to consider Rich’s relationships to Jewish history and identity, feminism, political activism, and the translation of Yiddish writers.

Cover image: American poet, essayist, and feminist Adrienne Rich outside the Warwick Hotel on November 17, 2006, in New York City. (Photograph by David Corio / Michael Ochs Archive via Getty Images.)