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American Smooth

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  163 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
An occasion to celebrate: a new collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning former poet laureate; her first since On the Bus with Rosa Parks. With the grace of an Astaire, Rita Dove's magnificent poems pay homage to our kaleidoscopic cultural heritage; from the glorious shimmer of an operatic soprano to Bessie Smith's mournful wail; from paradise lost to angel food cake; from ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)
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Feb 17, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing
Every poem in this book is perfect. Rita Dove is an amazingly gifted, Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Each poem is perfectly crafted, incredibly evocative and generally gorgeous. I have not read a book of poetry in a long, long time. I am so thrilled that this was chosen as the February book for my workplace book club. You should read it now ;)
Jan 25, 2016 Brendan rated it really liked it
Rating: Soft 4. 3 1/2 for the poetry, with a boost for some interesting ideas.

There's a long poem titled: "Twelve Chairs", with a segment from the perspective of each member of a jury (and one alternate as well). The second, seventh, and twelfth stood out to me.

"Not Welcome Here" is a series of poems about black soldiers in World War One. The most notable of these is "The Passage" - 11 pages of a soldier's journal entries about the voyage across the Atlantic to get to the war. Though it didn't
Christopher Sandstrom
The dance metaphor makes this collection fun. The poems about dances--"Fox Trot Fridays," "Ta Ta Cha Cha," "Rhumba"--made me feel as if I were not just reading, but really dancing.

American history in this collection comes alive, both as a broad sweep for the structure of the book, and as powerful images and voices throughout the work. The experiences of music, war, and even jury duty became my own experiences.

Although these poems were collected from diverse sources, Dove arranged them effectivel
Christina Rau
Jan 04, 2012 Christina Rau rated it liked it
I had thought that "American smooth" was a catchy title about language. You know, smooth talkin' lingo in America. While Rita Dove has an amazing handle on smooth language, that's not what "American smooth" is. It's a dance, like a waltz, but with snazzy individual flair added. That definition makes the dance sound not smooth at all, but that's America for ya. I have no idea what I mean by that. I do know that Dove's collection, American Smooth, incorporates the rhythm of dancing with the rhythm ...more
Dec 13, 2008 Stephen rated it liked it
Dove has written some great poems and there are some good ones in here. I get the feeling while reading some books of poems that the author is just getting a book out there instead of letting these things sit awhile and then revising them. I don't think this is necessarily a fault of Dove, but of publishing in general.

Dove hits the mark with some lines and descriptions: "a dirty wingspan/of the daily news" and "tidy rupture." "Twelve Chairs" and "Evening Primrose" are my favorite sequences in t
Mike Hammer
Apr 18, 2015 Mike Hammer rated it it was ok
Pretty good collection, lyrical inventive, lots f different forms and visions.
Jan 05, 2008 Venessa rated it liked it
Pulitzer-prize winning poet Rita Dove presents a fine and clever collection of new poetry. My favorites:
Quick 22
Brown 23
Fox 25
Dove includes Notes, and explains: the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. {This sentence contains all the letters in the English alphabet.} Dove’s poetry is confident and sexy, except for one section I did not read about soldiers….maybe I’m just burned out on War Talk right now. I also liked how “American smooth” is a phrase coined by Dove. Clever women are the gr
Jul 21, 2008 Rita rated it it was amazing
I love, love, love the poems in this book. Not sure why other people gave it less stars since it is a fantastic collection. :) I have probably read it cover to cover at least 10 times, not to mention constantly copying out poems to share with others. One of my favorites is the poem about a heart and the metaphors usually used to describe the heart (beating on a sleeve, locked in a box, cracking, rending), but it's just a "thick clutch of muscle". And I also really like the cover.
Sep 12, 2012 Kath rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I don't know how Ms. Dove's works hadn't come across my awareness before. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry ... and well deserved. She's amazing. American Smooth is earthy, accessible and wise, bitter and smooth in the way of good dark chocolate, and an amazing lens through which to see the world.

I do love my modern women poets, and Ms. Dove has joined the ranks of my favorites. This is a wonderful volume, well worth picking up and devoting your time to.
Feb 01, 2007 Xavier rated it it was amazing
A book of poetry is like a record album--how the separate pieces work together as a whole is still beyond me, but like a record, having the entire thing for a couple of outstanding songs is still worth it; that goes for American Smooth as well. Not that I can really judge the poems that don't stand out for me. I just don't understand them. The ones that do get to me however....
Aug 18, 2012 Glen rated it liked it
Uneven collection with some very good moments, but not enough surprises to warrant a higher rating from me. The centerpiece of the collection is the section entitled "Not Welcome Here", about a decorated African-American WWI regiment (the 369th), which was a story I'd not heard.
Mar 25, 2008 Craig rated it liked it
I enjoyed the world war 2 section and most of the poems in the last section of the book. Otherwise, I was a bit disappointed overall. I have liked other poems by Rita Dove much more than anything I found in this collection.
Mar 05, 2011 E rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Even though I didn't fall in love with these pieces as I have with others, Rita Dove is an amazing writer. Bounding back and forth between the abstract and the accessible, a voice like hers is poetry's best hope for survival.
Mary Beth
Nov 05, 2012 Mary Beth rated it it was amazing
These poems will transport you to other times, other places and let you see from the eyes of other people. "Heart to Heart" is one of many excellent poems here. Historical, biblical, musical poems.
Feb 16, 2012 Sarah added it
Shelves: own, poetry
I really, really liked some of these poems, but many of the rest seemed vaguely dull to me. I did pick the book up at a remainder sale, so I can't complain too much.
Aug 18, 2012 Greta rated it really liked it
Rita Dove is a famous poet, but I hadn't heard her poetry until. Interesting collection and well worth a read.
There are poems about WWI and poems about dancing, and I'm easy to please.
Dec 10, 2007 S. rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, women-writers
It all goes well enough, but "so what?"
Nov 12, 2007 nicole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
She is amazing. The end.
Nov 18, 2010 Ingrid rated it really liked it
Love her poetry
Mar 04, 2013 Mary rated it did not like it
Southern glam speak
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Kelli rated it it was amazing
Dec 31, 2015
C. rated it really liked it
Dec 31, 2015
Krissy marked it as to-read
Dec 27, 2015
Michael Giaccio
Michael Giaccio marked it as to-read
Dec 26, 2015
Rachel rated it really liked it
Dec 19, 2015
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Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and musician, lives in Charlottesville, where she is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
More about Rita Dove...

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