PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This report is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Diving into What Wreck?
Part II
Vahni Capildeo
In Adrienne Rich’s ‘Diving into the Wreck’, the under­water explorer concludes the poem by an act of bringing to light. During the journey and encounters delineated stanza by stanza, the heroic persona eventually becomes split and plural. I/we/you/he/she resurfaces ‘carrying a knife, a camera / a book of myths / in which / our names do not appear’. This is an act of power. It confronts patriarchal tropes of adventure, discovery, possession and analytic evaluation, deploying those tropes against themselves. Conducting a quest does not result in glory and the assertion of a superb ego. Instead, it shows up any treasures or secrets which can be gained by these means as potentially violent or negative. Not only are they of doubtful value for fluid risk-takers such as the narrator, but they encode and betoken a way of telling the story of the world in which the narrator and their kind are worse than without value: inexistent, not even null.

The first part of this essay, in the previous issue of PN Review, was partly concerned with unconsciously site­specific reading, and how a reader’s own, less-examined context and assumptions may bend and overlight a text. It considered intersections of gender and culture. In doing so, it invited readers who may have naturalised certain perspectives as normal, homely, universal or invisible to re-read, and to examine the specificity of their own positions, without fighting shy of the possible critical import of personal or anecdotal experience. Focusing on Adrienne Rich’s work uncovered how her poetic insistence on the word ‘wreck’ might engineer ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image