Adrienne Rich's use of free verse can seem deceptively simple to students. Type out one of the poems in paragraph form and ask students to break the lines where they feel they should be broken. Emphasize that there is not a right answer "here," but rather that you are curious about what their rationale will be for where lines should be broken. Have students compare their versions of the poem to the original, and have them hypothesize about why Rich broke the lines where she did.
In "Diving into the Wreck" Rich uses the underwater exploration of a shipwreck as a metaphor for the exploration of the self or unconscious. Like many of her poems, this work seems to be about the struggle to form an identity. Ask students to paraphrase the poem, thinking particularly about Rich's use of the first person and the symbol of the diver. What are the main points about identity in this poem? Is Rich making an argument here? Then, ask students to consider the speaker in some of Rich's other poems, like "Transcendental Etude" and "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law." How do the speakers in these poems differ? What is Rich saying about identity here? This activity should help students discover that women are not neatly packaged, unified selves, as often imagined by patriarchal society; Rich's poetry gives voice to an often-fractured sense of self.
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