Rita Dove

By: Emily Joachim & Jamie Isburg

Background:

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. Her father was one of the first black chemists in the tire industry. Dove was encouraged to read by her parents, and excelled in school. She was named a Presidential Scholar, she made it as one of the top one hundred high-school graduates in the country, also attended Miami University in Ohio as a National Merit Scholar. She married the German writer Fred Viebahn, who she met at an Iowa writers’ workshop. Along with poetry, Dove also had a short story collection and a few novels. Rita Dove received numerous honors and awards for her writings, including a Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and a Common Wealth Award. Now she is a Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.


Poems by: Rita Dove

Golden Oldie

I made it home early, only to get
stalled in the driveway-swaying
at the wheel like a blind pianist caught in a tune
meant for more than two hands playing.
The words were easy, crooned
by a young girl dying to feel alive, to discover
a pain majestic enough
to live by. I turned the air conditioning off,
leaned back to float on a film of sweat,
and listened to her sentiment:
Baby, where did our love go?-a lament
I greedily took in
without a clue who my lover
might be, or where to start looking.


Poems by: Rita Dove

Exit

Just when hope withers, the visa is granted.
The door opens to a street like in the movies,
clean of people, of cats; except it is your street
you are leaving. A visa has been granted,
"provisionally"-a fretful word.
The windows you have closed behind
you are turning pink, doing what they do
every dawn. Here it's gray. The door
to the taxicab waits. This suitcase,
the saddest object in the world.
Well, the world's open. And now through
the windshield the sky begins to blush
as you did when your mother told you
what it took to be a woman in this life.


Critics

They pointed out that the lyricism and musicality evident in her carefully crafted lines, even in her more narrative poems.