Rita Dove

The poet that I have chosen to do is Rita Dove. In her newest collection of poems, Sonata Mulattica, there were many to choose from. However the two that I wanted to look deeper into were Exit and Golden Oldie. In both poems she is able to convey strong emotions in the characters she described. Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio. Her father, Ray A. Dove, was a chemist, and a pioneer of integration in American industry. Both of her parents encouraged persistent study and wide reading. From an early age, Rita loved poetry and music. She played cello in her high school orchestra, and led her high school’s majorette squad.
As one of the most outstanding high school graduates of her year, she was invited to the White House as a Presidential Scholar. At Miami University in Ohio, she began to pursue writing seriously. After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in English in 1973, she won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany for two years at the University of Tubingen. She then joined the famous Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, receiving her Masters’ Degree in 1977. At Iowa, she met another Fulbright scholar, a young writer from Germany named Fred Viebahn. They were married in 1979. Their daughter Aviva was born in 1983.
From 1981 to 1989, Rita Dove taught creative writing at Arizona State University. Appearances in magazines and anthologies had won national acclaim for Rita Dove before she published her first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner in 1980. It was followed by Museum (1983) and Thomas and Beulah, (1986) a collection of interrelated poems loosely based on the life of her grandparents. Thomas and Beulah won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In 1993, Rita Dove was appointed to a two-year term as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

She was the youngest person, and the first African-American, to receive this highest official honor in American letters. In the fall of 1994, she read her poem, Lady Freedom Among Us, at the ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the U. S. Capitol. Other publications by Rita Dove include a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday, the poetry collections Grace Notes, Selected Poems and Mother Love, and the novel Through the Ivory Gate. Her verse drama, The Darker Face of the Earth had its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the 1986.
Another production of the play appeared at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D. C. , in 1997. Dove has brought her poetry to television audiences through her appearances on CNN and NBC’s Today Show. Public Broadcasting has devoted an hour-long prime time special to her life and work. She has shared television stages with Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers and Big Bird. On radio, she has hosted a National Public Radio special on Billie Holliday, and has been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion.
She joined former President Jimmy Carter top welcome an unprecedented gathering of Nobel Laureates in Literature to Atlanta, Georgia for a Cultural Olympiad held in conjunction with the 1996 Olympic Games. That same year, a symphonic work for orchestra and narrator — “Umoja — Each One of Us Counts,” — was performed at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall with Rita Dove’s text performed by former Mayor and U. N. Ambassador Andrew Young. Dove’s lifelong interest in music has taken other forms. She has provided text for works by composers Tania Leon, Bruce Dolphe and Alvin Singleton.
Her song cycle Seven for Luck, with music by John Williams, was featured on a PBS television special with the Boston Symphony. In 2009, she published Sonata Mulattica, a book-length cycle of poems telling the story of the 19th century African-European violinist George PolgreenBridgetower and his turbulent friendship with Ludwig van Beethoven. Rita Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she lives with her husband, the German author Fred Viebahn. They have one daughter.
In her spare time, she studies classical voice and practices the viola da gamba, a 17th century forerunner of the modern cello. Now that a little more about her life is understood it is time to examine the poems themselves. In Golden Oldie Dove tells a narrative about her getting home. The emotions in this poem are clearly evident, and show that the speaker is confused about her life. The first thing I noticed was a irregular rhyming scheme. Often times poetry follows certain patterns, but in this case there is none. The words that rhyme are: swaying and playing, and sentiment and lament.
Also, the words “alive” and “live by” are very similar sounding. Thus by having some things rhyme, in an irregular manner she shows that there is some consistency within randomness. This is similar to the girls life – very confusing. Moreover, her word choice is quite important in the poem. For instance, swaying is a specific choice because it has connotations of being lost or indifferent. Later on she reaffirms this thought by comparing herself in a simile to a blind pianist caught in a tune meant for more than two hands.
The scenario she compares herself to is somewhat humorous to think about, because the pianist is basically completely helpless. Obviously the feat described is quite confusing. In the next few lines she describes the song playing on the radio in her car. It is being sung by a young girl who, in her opinion is dying to feel alive. Dying to feel alive is a pretty intense statement to make. It seems that to make such a drastic statement she may be feeling that same issue. It continues to say “to discover a pain majestic enough to live by. ” This line is very interesting because most people don’t require a pain to live.
Rather they try to avoid pain. But it appears that the girl singing, and possibly the author, want to feel something rather than nothing at all. She was getting very intimate with the song, as proven by her turning off the air conditioning, despite the hot temperatures. Also, she leaned back as if to block out everything else but what she heard. The line in the song so closely paid attention to is described as a lament. A lament is described as a way to express sadness, grief, or sorrow. Then, upon hearing the melancholy statement, the speaker says she greedily took in without a clue who my lover might be.
This was the most confusing part of the poem to me. At first I didn’t understand how she could greedily take something in, when there was no actual object to get. However, it appears that she is hoarding the idea of having a lover who wants to know where their love went. Thus, it leads me to believe that she is in search of love when she concludes with “or where to start looking. ” Searching for love can be really confusing. Therefore a theme statement for the overall meaning of the poem can be derived: Often times human beings can be very confused in their emotions.
Sometimes they can find understanding in other confusing things because it is easy to relate to. The second poem by Rita Dove that I analyzed was Exit. In this case the author conveys that the emotion being felt by the speaker is anxious hopefulness. It is written from the speakers perspective about the reader, which I thought was very interesting. It’s about “you”, the reader, who is going somewhere. There is no rhyming scheme and it is one large stanza. The speaker starts off by saying that a visa is granted.
This tends to imply hat someone is going somewhere outside of their current country for an extended period of time. This can cause some anxiety. Moreover, it is said that the traveler wanted to get it, because there was hope that it would arrive. Then upon leaving, there is the realization that it is actually happening. The author compares the exit to that of in a movie. More information about the visa follows. It is has been granted, “provisionally. ” Meaning temporary or conditional, the speaker describes it as a fretful, or scary word. Then a reference to the windows of the house is made.
I think the author included this to reinforce the mindset that your leaving home, a very special place. However, an immediate contrast is made by saying “here it’s gray. ” This is in regards to the fact that a feeling of sorrow is present due to leaving. A suitcase is described as the saddest object in the world, which seems odd because the person wanted to travel according to the hope for a visa. Although it may be the case where the traveler knows that it is best to go, but is still upset about leaving. The final few lines reference the childhood of the reader.
A metaphor is used to compare the windshield of the vehicle too cheeks of the reader. “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. ” This is a much more positive angle on the journey they’re about to embark on. After reviewing the poems many times a general theme statement can be constructed: Often times human beings feel anxious about something they’re going to do. However, despite their concerns they can still have some feelings of hope that they will be successful.

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