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Works by
Rita Dove
(Poet, Former U.S. Poet Laureate)
[August 28, 1952 - ]

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http://people.virginia.edu/~rfd4b
Profile created October 14, 2009
Updated November 3, 2009
As Editor
Fiction
  • Through the Ivory Gate (1992)
    A debut novel by the 1987 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. When a woman returns to her Midwestern hometown as an artist-in-residence to teach puppetry to schoolchildren, her homecoming also means dealing with memories of racism, rejected love--and truths about her family. Author readings.

Lecture
Plays
Poetry
  • Sonata Mulattica (April 6, 2009)
    In a book-length lyric narrative inspired by history and imagination, a much celebrated poet re-creates the life of a nineteenth-century virtuoso violinist. The son of a white woman and an “African Prince,” George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780–1860) travels to Vienna to meet “bad-boy” genius Ludwig van Beethoven. The great composer’s subsequent sonata is originally dedicated to the young mulatto, but George, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven over a woman. From this crucial encounter evolves a grandiose yet melancholy poetic tale.

  • American Smooth (2004)
    An occasion to celebrate: a new collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning former poet laureate; her first since On the Bus with Rosa Parks. With the grace of an Astaire, Rita Dove's magnificent poems pay homage to our kaleidoscopic cultural heritage; from the glorious shimmer of an operatic soprano to Bessie Smith's mournful wail; from paradise lost to angel food cake; from hotshots at the local shooting range to the Negro jazz band in World War I whose music conquered Europe before the Allied advance. Like the ballroom-dancing couple of the title poem, smiling and making the difficult seem effortless, Dove explores the shifting surfaces between perception and intimation. .

  • On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999) -- Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
    A dazzling new collection by a much-celebrated former Poet Laureate of the United States. In these brilliant poems, Rita Dove treats us to a panoply of human endeavor, shot through with the electrifying jazz of her lyric elegance. From the opening sequence, "Cameos," which probes the private griefs and dreams of a working-class family, to the emblematic grace of a living legend like Rosa Parks, who acquiesced to public life in order to "serve the public good," these poems explore the intersection of individual fates with the grand arc of history. If there are heroes, Dove maintains, they continually reinvent themselves, as each of us must do every morning. As always with Rita Dove, there are stories --ghost tales and cautionary allegories ("The Camel Comes to Us from the Barbarians"), anecdotes and the historical moment reexamined ("The Enactment"). We get the lowdown nitty-gritty from a jitterbug queen ("Black on a Saturday Nightz"), eavesdrop on a child's whisperings ("I Cut My Finger Once on Purpose"), and experience the awakening of a bored teenager to the world of books. Whether parable or meditation, confession or praise, these poems remind us just how infinitely various a creature the human being is.

  • Mother Love (1995)
    Calling upon the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, Mother Love examines the love between mother and daughter, two tumblers locked in an eternal somersault: each mother a daughter, each daughter a potential mother.

  • Selected Poems (1993)
    Here in one volume is a selection of the extraordinary poems of Rita Dove, who, as the nation's Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, brought poetry into the lives of millions of people.  Along with a new introduction and poem, Selected Poems comprises Dove's collections The Yellow House on the Corner, which includes a group of poems devoted to the themes of slavery and freedom; Museum, intimate ruminations on home and the world; and finally, Thomas and Beulah, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, a verse cycle loosely based on her grandparents' lives.  Precisely yet intensely felt, resonant with the voices of ordinary people, Rita Dove's Selected Poems is marked by lyric intensity and compassionate storytelling.

  • Grace Notes (1989)
    With this her fourth book of poems, Rita Dove expands her role as a leading voice in contemporary American letters. The title of the collection serves as an umbrella for the intimate concerns expressed in the forty-eight poems; in music, grace notes are those added to the basic melody, the embellishments that—if played or sung at the right moment with just the right touch—can break your heart.

    Isn't this what every lyric poem wishes to be, the poet asks as she explored autobiographical events, most from childhood and the cusp of adolescence, and then turns to the shadowy areas of regret and memory. The word as talisman is another of her concerns, and finally, in the section that most typifies the lilt of grace notes, Dove considers the embellishments below the melody of daily life.

  • Thomas and Beulah (1986) -- Winner 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
    "The poems in this unusual book tell a story, forming a narrative almost like a realistic novel. Read in sequence as intended, they tell of the lives of a married black couple (not unlike Dove's own grandparents) from the early part of the century until their deaths in the 1960s, a period that spans the great migration of blacks from rural south to urban north. But this is merely the social backdrop to the story of a marriage. Two separate sequences offer two views of the couple's lives: the first, "Mandolin," consists of 23 poems giving Thomas's side, and "Canary in Bloom" gives Beulah's in 21 poems. Together they paint a detailed, poetically dense portrait of two lives in all their frailty, dignity and complexity." -- Amazon.com

  • Museum (1983)

  • The Yellow House on the Corner (1980)

Short Stories
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