Biography of Rita Dove
Rita Frances Dove (born August 28, 1952) is an American poet and author. From 1993–1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She was the first African American to be appointed since the position was created by an act of Congress in 1986 out of the previous "consultant in poetry" position (1937–86). Dove also received an appointment as "special consultant in poetry" for the Library of Congress's bicentennial year from 1999–2000. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1987, and she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004–2006.
Dove was born in Akron, Ohio to Ray Dove, the first African American chemist to work in the U.S. tire industry (as research chemist at Goodyear), and Elvira Hord, who achieved honors in high school and would share her passion for reading with her daughter. In 1970 Dove graduated from Buchtel High School as a Presidential Scholar, making her one of the 100 top American high school graduates that year. Later, Dove graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Miami University in 1973 and received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1977. In 1974 she held a Fulbright Scholarship from Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany.
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Rita Dove Poems
"I have been a stranger in a strang...
It wasn't bliss. What was bliss but the ordinary life? She'd spend hours
After all, there's no need to say anything
Velvet fruit, exquisite square I hold up to sniff between finger and thumb -
"Teach Us to Number Our Days"
In the old neighborhood, each funeral parlor is more elaborate than the last.
Heart to Heart
It's neither red nor sweet.
In water-heavy nights behind grandmother's porch We knelt in the tickling grasses and whispered:
Shirtsleeved afternoons turn toward leather as the trees
Just when hope withers, the visa is granted. The door opens to a street like in the movies,
The Secret Garden
I was ill, lying on my bed of old papers, when you came with white rabbits in your arms;
Lady Freedom Among Us
Don't lower your eyes or stare straight ahead to where
I love the hour before takeoff, that stretch of no time, no home
Ludwig Von Beethoven's Return to Vienna
So when my proud city spread her gypsy skirts, I reentered;
Billie Holiday's burned voice had as many shadows as lights,
Fifth Grade Autobiography
I was four in this photograph fishing with my grandparents at a lake in Michigan.
Billie Holiday's burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.
(Now you're cooking, drummer to bass,
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)