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Rita Dove Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Through the Ivory Gate (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Plays

The Darker Face of the Earth (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Yellow House on the Corner (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Museum (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fifth Sunday (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
Thomas and Beulah (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Grace Notes (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Selected Poems (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Poet's World (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mother Love (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
On the Bus With Rosa Parks (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
American Smooth (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sonata Mulattica (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Playlist for the Apocalypse (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

I Am the Darker Brother(1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Real Things: An Anthology of Popular Culture in American Poetry(1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Making Callaloo: 25 Years of Black Literature(2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
O Taste and See: Food Poems(2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Writer in the Library: 41 Writers Reveal How They Use Libraries to Develop Their Skill, Craft & Careers(2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sisters(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Civil Rights Reader(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
What My Mother Gave Me(2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Truth to Power(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bearden's Odyssey(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Reel Verse: Poems about the Movies(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The 1619 Project(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library(2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Rita Dove
Rita Dove was born on August 28, 1952 in Akron, Ohio. She is an essayist and poet.

She was born to Ray Dove, one of the first African-American chemists to work in the US tire industry (as a research chemist at Goodyear), and Elvira Hord, who achieved honors during high school and would later share her own passion for reading with her daughter.

Rita graduated as a Presidential Scholar from Buchtel High School, in 1970,. In 1973, she graduated summa cum laude with her BA from Miami University. She held a Fulbright Scholarship in 1974 and 1975 from University of Tubingen, Germany. In 1977 she got her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Rita, from 1981 until 1989, taught creative writing at Arizona State University. In 1989, she started teaching at the University of Virginia. She is a trained classical cellist and violist da gamba.

From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first African American to have been appointed since the position was created by one act of Congress in 1986. And at the age of 40, she was also the youngest person in the position. Rita also received an appointment as the “special consultant in poetry” for the Library of Congress’ bicentennial year from 1999 to 2000.

In 1987, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, making her the second African American to do so. In 1996, she won the National Humanities Medal. She was the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 until 2006. In 2011, she won the National Medal of Arts, in 2019, she won the Wallace Stevens Award, and in 2021 she received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal. In 2022 alone she won the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

In 1979, she married Fred Viebahn, who is a German born writer, having first met him in the summer of 1976 when she was a graduate student in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and he spent a semester as a Fulbright fellow in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

They lived in Oberlin, Ohio from 1977 to 1979 as Viebahn taught in the Oberlin College’s German department, and spent extended periods of time in places such as Israel, Germany, and Ireland before they moved to Arizona in 1981. In 1983, their daughter, named Aviva Dove-Viebahn, was born in Phoenix, Arizona.

The couple are both avid ballroom dancers, and they have participated in a number of showcase performances.

“Grace Notes: Poems” is a poetry collection that was released in 1991. This collection’s title serves as an umbrella for the intimate concerns expressed in the forty-eight poems; in music, grace notes are those that are added to the basic melody, the embellishments which, if sung or played at the right moment with exactly the right touch, can break your heart.

So isn’t this just what every lyric poem wishes to be, the poet asks while exploring autobiographical events, most of which are from childhood and the cusp of adolescence, and then she turns to the shadowy areas of memory and regret. The word as talisman is another of her concerns, and lastly, in the section which most typifies the lilt of grace notes, Rita considers the embellishments below the melody of daily life.

“On the Bus With Rosa Parks” is a poetry collection that was released in 2000. Rita, in these brilliant poems, treats us to quite the panoply of human endeavor, which are shot through with the electrifying jazz of her lyric elegance.

From the opening sequence, called “Cameos”, to the civil rights struggle in the final sequence, she explores the intersection of individual fate and history.

“Collected Poems: 1974-2004” is a poetry collection that was released in 2016. This collection showcases the wide ranging diversity which earned her a National Humanities Medal, a Pulitzer, a National Medal of Art the position of US poet laureate.

Gathering together thirty years of work and seven books, this volume compiles her irreverent musings in “Museum” and Rita’s fresh reflections on adolescence in the poem “The Yellow House on the Corner”. She sets the moving love story of “Thomas and Beulah” against the backdrop of industrialization, war, and the civil right struggles.

The exquisite reinvention of Greek myth in the sonnets of “Mother Love”, multifaceted gems of “Grace Notes”, the troubling rapids of recent history in “On the Bus with Rosa Parks”, and the homage to America’s kaleidoscopic cultural heritage in “American Smooth”. Each of which celebrate Dove’s mastery of narrative context with lyrical finesse.

With the precise singing lines for which the Washington Post praised her, Rita has created fresh configurations of both the traditional and the experimental.

“Playlist for the Apocalypse” is a poetry collection that was released in 2021. In Rita’s first poetry collection in twelve years, she investigates the vacillating moral compass that guides America’s, as well as the rest of the world’s, experiments in democracy. Whether portraying the first Jewish ghetto in sixteenth century Venice or the contemporary efforts of Black Lives Matter, the doomed nobility of Muhammad Ali’s conscientious objector stance, or one girls’ night clubbing the shadow of World War II, this outstanding poet never fails to link history’s grand exploits to the tragedies and triumphs of individual lives.

Musical in its forms and meticulously orchestrated, this book collects a dazzling array of different voices: an octogenarian dances an exuberant mambo, an elevator operator simmers with resentment, a spring cricket philosophizes with mordant humor about Valentine’s Day, critics, hip hop, and critics. Calamity becomes much too personal in the book’s concluding section, “Little Book of Woe”, which charts this journey from terror to hope while Rita learns how to cope with this debilitating chronic illness.

At turns grave and audaciously playful, alternating poignant meditations on mortality and acerbic observations of injustice, this book takes the reader from the tiniest of moments of redemption to catastrophic failures of the human soul. Listen up, Rita tells us, speaking truth to power, and what you will hear in return is a lifetime of song.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Rita Dove

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