Folger Poetry Board Reading: Rita Dove (2015)

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The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series presented Folger Poetry Board Reading: Rita Dove on May 19, 2015, at 7:30 pm in the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre. A former U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Rita Dove shared her favorite poems by other poets in addition to reading her own work.

Rita Dove

Rita Dove.

Rita Dove's work exhibits a formal grace with elegant phrasing that glides and dips, displaying an excitement and mastery of the language. Dove is a former U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-1995) and recipient of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book, Thomas and Beulah. Her most recent poetry collections are Sonata Mulattica and American Smooth, and she is sole editor of The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. She is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Dove has read for the O.B. Hardison Poetry series three times previously, on May 4, 2009, January 20, 1994, and April 22, 1986.

Reviews and excerpts

To The Continent


When I was a child, I was content

to fit the notes to the joy I felt.

Chords unfurled shimmering ribbons

I twirled myself in, as if into a chrysalis.

Then I wanted love, whole sheets of it

to wrap myself warm for sleeping.

Less spontaneous, I performed vigorously;

the world was not as large as the sound

I sent to it. More admiration, fetes.

Women began sampling, nibbles & slurps;

I played to keep the noise going,

to fill me up. But now I want only

to find love that resists, notes that will not fit;

I want to be appalled & staggered

in equal measures, I want blood

& blood’s aftermath—

weariness & affliction, sans mercy.

From Sonata Mulattica © 2009 by Rita Dove, published by W.W. Norton. Used with permission.