1: Recording, Adrienne Rich reading “Diving into the Wreck” at Stanford University, 1973.
Reading poetry to ourselves, silently, and out loud can create very different experiences and affect our interpretation of the poem’s form and meaning. In this activity, students first decide how they might give voice to the poem and then consider the sound of Adrienne Rich doing so.
Suggested Activity: Ask students how they would imagine Rich reading “Diving into the Wreck” aloud. Would it be pensive? Uncertain? Frustrated? Proud? Assemble a list of possibilities. Now have students, with a partner, read the poem out loud, choosing one of these possible styles. (Alternative: ask students to change reading style for each stanza.) How is the experience of reading the poem out loud different from reading it silently?
Play the recording of Rich reading the poem for your students. How would they characterize the sound of this recording? (E.g., proud, defiant, determined.) How would they describe its rhythm or pace? Does it meet their expectations? Are they surprised to hear Rich, a Jewish poet, speak with a faint Southern accent? What might that say about our expectations of the sound or voice of a Jewish poem?
Source: Adrienne Rich, “Diving into the Wreck,” Reading at Stanford, 1973, PennSound, https://media.sas.upenn.edu/pennsound/authors/Rich/Stanford-73-B/Rich-Adrienne_07_Diving-Into-The-Wreck_Reading-at-Stanford_Side-B_1973.mp3.