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Selected Poems

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  553 ratings  ·  23 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
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
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.
Abigail Clark
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.
Bernard Norcott-mahany
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
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
Amy Paget
Dove's imagery is wonderful. The Pulitzer prize-winning Thomas and Beulah poem cycle should be read by all!
Primer for the Nuclear Age and Small Town were my favorites.
Sally Bozzuto
May 29, 2008 Sally Bozzuto rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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 27, 2007 Kerry rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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 . . .
Dove is a Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate. This collection contains her well-known poem "Thomas and Beulah." Good stuff.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the other reviewers seemed to have. I just didn't find it interesting enough.
Paul Agusta
one of the most honest and beautifully visceral American poets of the last half of the 20th century.
One of my favorite poets!
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.
Jeff Laughlin
She's the best.
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  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Selected Poems
  • Collected Poems, 1943-2004
  • The Blue Estuaries
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  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
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  • Selected Poems
  • Different Hours
  • The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990
  • Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness
  • Steal Away: Selected and New Poems
  • Repair
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...
Thomas and Beulah Mother Love On the Bus With Rosa Parks The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry American Smooth

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