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American Smooth

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  18 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, 112 pages
Published February 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)
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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 M.
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
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
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....
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.
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 3 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
It all goes well enough, but "so what?"
She is amazing. The end.
Love her poetry
Southern glam speak
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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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