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Thomas and Beulah
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Thomas and Beulah

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  928 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
The poems in this unusual book tell a story, forming a narrative almost like a realistic novel. Read in sequence as intended, they tell of the lives of a married black couple (not unlike Dove's own grandparents) from the early part of the century until their deaths in the 1960s, a period that spans the great migration of blacks from rural south to urban north. But this is ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published January 1st 1986 by Carnegie-Mellon University Press
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Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was deliciously well-done; Dove is witty and touching and lyrically adept. I found the two halves so brilliantly complementary that I couldn't easily say that I preferred one to the other; in both, she dissects disappointment so skillfully, so lovingly.* It's striking how artfully she constructs the two figures as mirrored, both pigeonholed into the roles society has fashioned for them--Thomas haunted by the loss of his first love (platonic or otherwise) and Beulah struggling against the re ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I'm going to dock a star for the time being because I'm legitimately baffled as to why this ended with "The Oriental Ballerina". This was really great—I read it twice back to back—but the purpose of "The Oriental Ballerina" continues to elude me. Especially as a closing number. But so many moments of stunning, quiet beauty that I'll probably up this to a full 5 eventually
Dan Simmons
May 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoy Rita Dove’s poetry but tend to come away from her work feeling as if she has exposed a deficiency in my poetry reading skill because I don’t absolutely love her work. This feeling has intensified after attending her delightful reading at OSU earlier this year and after reading this collection, which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Once again, I enjoyed this collection, but did not absolutely love it (pitiful, I know). That said, I think these two poems from this collection are es ...more
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
D.A. Gray
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not my first reading and it won't be my last. Thomas and Beulah is a great love letter from the poet to her grandparents, and whether or not the stories contained are exact they provide the kind of truth that only a poet can give.

Splitting the collection into two strong Points of View, shows art dealing with opposites, male/female, light/dark, black/white -- the poems start in a place that feel deeply personal. But the great poems that start with the personal, by being specific touch on
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Grace by: Literary Ohio
Shelves: for-class
To start off, I like the way this book feels in my hands. The cover is a pleasing texture and the thin paperback poetry books are always flexible and light on the hands. I appreciate that this book is based in Akron, Ohio. Can't say that about many of the Pulitzer-prize winners! This is not my favorite collection of poetry, nor does it contain any of my favorite poems. However, there is something endearing and very normal about the poetry topics. The fact that the normal stories of Akronites are ...more
Angie Orlando
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful story about a man and woman, told in both voices, who marry in Akron, Ohio 1920's. This book follows the black migration northward and ends up in my own area. But this is a time period and culture so unlike mine. I had trouble understanding some of the poems, although I highly appreciate Dove's imagery and lyrical quality. It is helpful to read the timeline at the end of the book and then re-read the poems.
Jeffrey Bumiller
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rita Dove's haunting and beautiful book Thomas and Beulah won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and I can see why. These very layered, very distant, yet somehow extremely emotional poems trace the life of Thomas and Beulah, the two characters who are loosely based on Rita Dove's grandparents. I would like to get to know them better, so I will be reading this one again someday.
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I read this book in about two hours and immediately turned back to the first page and started reading again, slower this time, so I could savor the imagery and beauty in the simplistic details. This is the far superior precursor to the modern novel in verse. It is a story woven by poetry rather than a story forced into poetic form. No wonder it won the Pulitzer.
Mar 13, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
Many like this book of poems loosely about lives of maternal grandparents.

Gabrielle Foreman in 'Miss Puppet Lady', WRB March 1993 review of novel of childhood 'Through the Ivory Gate ' is not positive about this book, tho I would probably find it interesting to read. It seems from Wikipedia that she has not written any more novels, but plenty of poetry, plays etc.
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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...