Wai Chee Dimock
Rita Dove’s Selected Poems
From Ohio, her father was one of the first Black chemists in the tire business. She was encouraged to read by her mother at a very young age and always attached to books. She attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Dove was the first African American to have been appointed the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize, and has many other humanities and arts awards. Dove does not believe in strict genre and her writings cannot be easily categorized. A lot of her writings treat historical events with a personal touch and she’s written on topics like her grandparents’ marriage, highs and lows of Black Liberation, even on forgotten figures like Black violinist and friend of Beethoven, George Polgreen Bridgetower. She brings out the personal, private thoughts that are easily forgotten in history.
Adaptations/Work in Different Mediums:
- Dove often marries different mediums of art such as music in Sonata Mulattica, and dance in American Smooth.
https://vimeo.com/122457380 movie trailer Sonata Mulattica
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc6LCqMf4D0 Movie trailer for Sonata Mulattica (extended)
- 1994 she published the play The Darker Face of the Earth which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon
Pay attention to themes of:
- Yellow House on the Corner
- Writes about her grandparents’ relationship in Thomas and Beulah
- Doesn’t really address race relations directly, rather speaks about slavery and about the mundane of the lives of slaves
- History and Political Events
- She ties history to the present
- Museum section of book (pg 65) poems about personal relationships of historical figures, often forgotten
- Ex: the wife of Han dynasty emperor pg 77
- Integration of Different Art Forms
- “For Dove, dance is an implicit parallel to poetry,” said Emily Nussbaum in The New York Times review of the collection. “Each is an expression of grace performed within limits; each an art weighted by history but malleable enough to form something utterly new.”
- Yellow House on the Corner:
- Upon Meeting Don L Lee in A Dream pg 12
- how can we understand Dove’s description of this historical. Why does Dove include inaccuracies? Why does Dove offer this poem as a dream?
Look at How Dove offers less mainstream perspectives/arguments/reasoning
- Slave’s Critique of Practical Reason pg 38
- Dove refers to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the use of reason to act.
- Parsley pg 133
- How does Dove manipulate language in this poem, what does her focus on language both syntactically and in the content of the poem speak to the power of words?
- → In contrast, how why does Dove stick to one side of master-slave relationship in Kentucky, 1833 pg 40? (1833 was the year in which Kentucky passed an amendment to the laws of the state, prohibiting the importation of slaves into Kentucky )
- Deals with how self-realization can be obtained
- Talk about the way Dove describes the young boys, why does she use that language, why does she use the word “sheep”, contrast with the way she describes
- How does the myth of Jason build on the slaves’ wishes for self realization?
- First Kiss pg 48
- Discuss the language in this poem. The breaks between stanzas, could they represent the duality of this lover? The good and bad, never really measuring up?
- Thomas and Beulah
- Grandfather’s name is actually Thomas, grandma’s name is Georgianna. Does th
Sailor in Africa pg 119