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Selected Poems

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  625 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Here in one volume is a selection of the extraordinary poems of Rita Dove, who, as the nation's Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, brought poetry into the lives of millions of people.Along with a new introduction and poem, Selected Poems comprises Dove's collections The Yellow House on the Corner, which includes a group of poems devoted to the themes of slavery and freedom; ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 28th 1993 by Vintage
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There are ways
to make of the moment

a topiary
so the pleasure’s in

walking through.

- from "Flirtation"

Surprised and enchanted by these poems, my first thorough introduction to Rita Dove, one of my town’s resident famous poets. I was not expecting the latent mysticism. Her bountiful, far-reaching vocabulary and intellectual curiosity reveal her devotion to lifelong learning, which naturally made me warm to her. I particularly liked her historical poems, the operatic Thomas and Beulah cycle, and poem
Tai Harris
Nov 12, 2011 Tai Harris rated it really liked it
Rita Dove’s poetry reads like a narrative. They are so vivid and some are easy to understand. However, the majority of the pieces in this collection are so complex that it takes several reads to grasp an understanding of them. This collection touches on themes of love, race and sometimes mirror historical events as in the piece titled “The Transport of Slaves From Maryland to Mississippi”. I am always searching for historical events that I’ve experienced to write about, not realizing that just b ...more
Jun 16, 2016 Kasandra rated it really liked it
Really like Dove's imagery throughout, though many poems didn't speak to me or weren't my style, I guess. I wanted to love this book, but I ended up simply liking it a lot. Many of the poems stood out for a turn of phrase, or an image or two, but not as a whole piece. Thomas and Beulah, though, that's an amazing book and well-told story from two points of view, and it raised my rating of the whole from 3 to 4 stars. Definitely I will re-read this. Not dazzling, but solid and quietly persistent. ...more
Mar 25, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is a great set of poems from one of our master poets. Although her poetry generally engages with everyday matters, it does so in a way that fills those subjects with mystery. Largely it's the word choices, which constantly surprise with their freshness -- but it's also the startling perspectives she offers (the Thomas and Beulah poems are heartbreaking in how alone, how separate, they make their married protagonists) and the play with structure and stanza. Just today I read and re-read and ...more
Bethanie Humphreys
There were many lines that stopped me, and intricate language that I loved. The poems from her first book made some interesting fantastical leaps which I was just reading about in Robert Bly's book Leaping Poetry.

My favorite line from the poem Straw Hat:

To him, work is a narrow grief
and the music afterwards
is like a woman
reaching into his chest
to spread it around.

All in all, quite inspiring.
Sally Bozzuto
May 29, 2008 Sally Bozzuto rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poetry lovers
Recommended to Sally by: Emily Beyer
Still in the process of reading this collection--it contains several of her other books including Yellow House on the Corner, Museum and Thomas and Beulah.

Museum is magical but intense and Thomas and Beulah kind of blew my mind. It's two sets of poems from opposite sides of a love story and the writing is amazing.
Susan Botich
Oct 14, 2012 Susan Botich rated it really liked it
Rita Dove really knows how to spin intriguing story into her poems, using language that's completely accessible in a beautifully formed voice of naked honesty, opening the reader's insight into communities that may be unfamiliar but always deeply personal and evoking. Yes, I loved this collection!
Aug 12, 2010 Elise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Rita Dove's poetry is so vivid and vibrant. Most of the time when I read any of her poetry I feel like I'm looking at a painting. Its hard to describe the kind of experience I have when I read her poetry. Reading it really is just like an experience, thats all I can describe it as.
Abigail Clark
Nov 17, 2014 Abigail Clark rated it it was amazing
I put flags in all of my books of poetry on poems that I enjoy, and looking at Selected Poems, there were a lot of poems by Rita Dove that I loved. For someone looking for a book of poetry, I highly recommend reading this.
Aug 27, 2007 Kerry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I first read this collection of poems in 2004, but I've read it at least three times since...the images and sound quality in Dove's poems are as close to perfect as I've yet found in poetry.
Feb 14, 2009 SmarterLilac rated it it was amazing
Rita Dove is so nice to read. She has a methodical, precise way of structuring her poems; every one reflects the most delicate and devoted sense of care.
Sep 28, 2015 Olivia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: intersectional
It should be made a crime for people not to know Rita Dove. My hands-down favorite modern poet. And in the running for my favorite ever . . .
Amy Paget
Jun 13, 2015 Amy Paget rated it it was amazing
Dove's imagery is wonderful. The Pulitzer prize-winning Thomas and Beulah poem cycle should be read by all!
Paul Agusta
Aug 14, 2007 Paul Agusta rated it really liked it
one of the most honest and beautifully visceral American poets of the last half of the 20th century.
Jan 05, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
Deep, complex, but enjoyable to my eyes (and mind). Like reading art.
Mar 24, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pleasure
Primer for the Nuclear Age and Small Town were my favorites.
Jun 12, 2008 Marcia rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite poets!
Jeff Laughlin
Oct 04, 2012 Jeff Laughlin rated it it was amazing
She's the best.
Bernard Norcott-mahany
Apr 18, 2012 Bernard Norcott-mahany rated it really liked it
Rita Dove is not an easy poet to read. She brings in material from her own history, which is most unusual -- top student in school, a Fulbright scholar, she is very much at home in the world of books, of American history, as well as her own life story and those of her family. The poetry is highly allusive and, if you don't know all the stuff that Ms. Dove knows, you may be missing a lot.
That said, she wears her education well. TS Eliot always seemed like the professorial type, dropping names th
Apr 26, 2013 Scott rated it it was ok
Dove's poems simply didn't resonate with me. They weren't dense or difficult, on the contrary. But I just didn't find myself in them nor did I discover great beauty. I'm sure others have a different experience, which is a reminder that sometimes poetry is very personal.
Aug 26, 2008 Kim rated it it was ok
This is an interesting collection, and well worth reading. The sequence about the lives of her grandparents, "Thomas and Belulah," is especially impressive, and has some real winners in it (it won the Pulitzer, so duh).
Ashley Calvert
Jan 26, 2011 Ashley Calvert rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this. I did. And some of the poems were really powerful to me, but others I had problems with it keeping my attention. It's probably just not my style of poetry.
Aug 01, 2008 Rae rated it liked it
Dove is a Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate. This collection contains her well-known poem "Thomas and Beulah." Good stuff.
Nov 10, 2010 Jimmy rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry-authors
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the other reviewers seemed to have. I just didn't find it interesting enough.
Nov 01, 2007 Melvin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: already-read
She is the master of the metaphor. Words become the hues of a painters palette in her deft hands and she illustrates the mental canvas with purposed brush strokes.
Julie marked it as to-read
Sep 25, 2016
Aladdin marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2016
Sharon Williams
Sharon Williams marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2016
Lee Monks
Lee Monks marked it as to-read
Sep 13, 2016
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  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • Collected Poems, 1943-2004
  • The Blue Estuaries
  • Selected Poems
  • Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • Different Hours
  • Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002
  • Collected Poems
  • The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990
  • Walking to Martha's Vineyard
  • Collected Poems
  • Time and Materials
  • Repair
  • Averno
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.
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