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On the Bus With Rosa Parks

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In these brilliant poems, Rita Dove treats us to a panoply of human endeavor, shot through with the electrifying jazz of her lyric elegance. From the opening sequence, "Cameos", to the civil rights struggle of the final sequence, she explores the intersection of individual fate and history. ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 17th 2000 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1999)
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Connie G
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poet Rita Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 1993 at the age of 40. Much of her work is about the African-American experience, although many of her poems also show her love of music, history, and creativity. A group of poems about a working class family going through difficult times begins her 1990 work, "On the Bus With Rosa Parks". She ends it with poems about the Civil rights era as young black women bravely speak out about racist actions. From the third stanza of "The Enact ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: atonement, poetshere
Since she's discovered
men would rather drown
than nibble,
she does just

There are no direct references to social justice in these pages but to suggest it isn't present is to quip that since breathing isn't in itself named, that such a motor function is likewise absent. I myself feel as if I am choking on fibers, torn tissue of what it means to be alive. We are a dastardly species. Certain hopes satisfied a philosophical ideal. This led to institutions which serve to protect us.

Alas, we are j
Women's National Book Association of New Orleans
The Women's National Book Association sent this book to the White House yesterday (March 24) in honor of Women's History Month:

From the Women's National Book Association's press release:

Rita Dove manages something rare and wonderful in a story told through poems—she humanizes icon Rosa Parks, whose quiet act of courage changed the course of history. We see how an everyday woman with no notion of fame, acted from her convictions. More importantly, we see h
mwpm mwpm
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
(So there you are at last -

a pip, a button in the grass.

The world's begun

without you.

And no reception but

accumulation time.

Your face hidden but your name

shuddering on air!)

- Cameos: Birth, pg. 16

* * *

When I was young, the moon spoke in riddles

and the stars rhymed. I was a new toy

waiting for my owner to pick me up.

When I was young, I ran the day to its knees.

There were trees to swing on, crickets for capture.

I was narrowly sweet, infinitely cruel,

tongued in honey and coddled in milk,

sunburned and
Nadine Jones
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This was brilliant. So many of these poems are so relatable, and at the same time they look at the world from an angle I never considered.

Dawn Revisited
Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don't look back,

the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits —
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours

to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Dove descends onto the concreteness of the lives of poetry on the bus. Strange and familiar as historical fiction.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mal Martin
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her work is very beautiful. It is just as someone described "a film with the volume turned down." this is beautiful and elegant. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to hear what silence is like but to also feel the small feelings that follow many women around. ...more
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
An ok collection of poems with a few standouts. The first set, "Cameos," captures mid-century working life for blacks. Dove is especially vivid here. The closing sequence, the namesake for the book, tells the Rosa Parks story more obliquely, less narrative than moments, or reflections. I had hoped, I suppose, for a little more heat here, but Dove instead keeps the voice cool as is her style.

For a poem for graduation or an important birthday, Testimonial brought a lot of pleasure:

Back when the e
Molly Likovich
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I'd heard of Rita Dove, but never read any of her work. I stumbled upon this collection in my local library and am so glad I decided to pick it up.

"On the Bus with Rosa Parks" is a deeply lyric, and descriptive poetry collection, each poem bearing its own lush story. Each section of the book has a thin theme tying the pieces together, but of course my favorite was the final section for which the collection is titled. The little details Dove inserts through using newspaper clippings

i didn't even realise while reading that suddenly i had reached the last page.

although i try to stay away from feeling ashamed about my reading habits as much as i like not to judge other people's, i do feel a bit of embarrassment at realising this is my first poetry collection of the year written by a woman. i wouldn't go as far as to say shame on me but perhaps i could softly whisper it to me once.

without carrying with me any form of expectation about this collection, ultimately i was p
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rita Dove writes blow you away (and sometimes for me any way, makes me feel like i need to be a lot more intelligent to understand) poetry. Here series that ends the book and makes the title on Rosa Parks is a very powerful exploration of that moment and change. Here is from one of the poems:

"The situation is intolerable"

Intolerable [italics]: that civilized word.
Aren't we civilized too? Shoes shined,
each starched cuff unyeilding,
each dovegray pleated trouser leg
a righteous sword advancing
onto t
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
On The Bus With Rosa Parks is the first collection I have read from Rita Dove, and it feels like a wonderful place to start. The poetry varies in style from poem to poem, and blend individual history with a broader, societal history. The poems I most enjoyed were Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967; Gotterdammerung, and Ghost Walk.

I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a good poetry collection to read.
Jennifer Stoy
I couldn't quite get into it as a collection, but there were some standouts. The first collection, Cameos, hung together very well, as did the On the Bus With Rosa Parks section. Maple Valley Library, 1967, probably resonated with me the most, but "ah - and then / no more postponed groceries, / and that blue pair of shoes!" were the lines that spoke to me most (from "My Mother Enters the Work Force") because it cuts out all the fat and gristle from the bone of the poem. ...more
A E Fox
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book but did not. I found a few poems, like Singsong, that were beautiful and thought-provoking. However, most of the poems did not affect me in that way. I even reread most of them after finishing the book once. I would still recommend this book. The poems that did stand out were memorable, and maybe others can see in the poems that I did not.
Phi Beta Kappa Authors
Rita Dove
ΦBK, Miami University, 1973

From the publisher: From the opening sequence, probing the private griefs and dreams of a working class family, to the emblematic grace of the living legend Rosa Parks, these poems explore the intersection of individual fates with the grand arc of history.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I carried it home, past five blocks of aluminum siding
and the old garage where, on its boarded-up dloors,
someone had scrawled

I can eat an elephant
If I take small bites.

Yes, I said, to no one in particular: That's
what I'm gonna do!
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
In this meditation on history, all of the poems have this very pleasant cadence to them.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection shows how former Poet Laureate Rita Dove is a master at her craft. Almost every poem in this collection has examples of sublime writing.
J. A.
Jun 07, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
These poems are silk thread, strung and knotted, sweetly and vibrantly singing.
"Singsong," "The First Book," and "Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967" are perfect poems to read with your children. ...more
Ivana Maksic
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
love it! sensuous and poignant! & political in its most effective, profound sense!
Vikki Marshall
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rita Dove is a gifted, treasured poet with accolades too numerous to mention, her words so perfectly chosen. In this collection of poetry she pays tribute to the wisdom that existed before us and to the people whose simple, elegant acts have had a profound impact on the world around them. Her intimate pieces invite readers to see Ms. Dove as a child with the young eyes of a future poet observing the world around her. The 10 poems directly attributed to the humble humanity of Rosa Parks, are brea ...more
Oswego Public Library District
On the Bus with Rosa Parks is a heartfelt collection of poems by the former U.S. Poet Laureate, Rita Dove. Poems like “Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967” and “Singsong” testify to the vivid imagery she masters. Dove writes with a thoughtfulness that makes her poems intriguing and beautiful. There are poems tied to the Civil Rights Movement, poems about human struggle, and poems that provide a glimpse into everyday life. - JM

Place a hold on On the Bus with Rosa Parks.
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, breath-taking, and inspired! Pure, original, and engrossing! Dove has a command of the art that, I believe, outshines many of her contemporaries. Her powerful verse is like a lighthouse beacon shining a glorious light upon an American vessel of poetry, long thought to be lost at sea. Her work comes equipped with powerful textual imagery which touches deepest regions of the soul, and each poem is topped with a sense of euphoric delight upon literary consumption. If you can think of any ...more
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wonderful linked poems by the former Poet Laureate of the United States. As the title would suggest, many do cover the Civil Rights Movement, but many are about everyday folk who are not celebrated, with some poems seeming to have an autobiographical bent. These poems feel like deep pools--something you can enjoy on a surface level, but that reveals more and more the deeper you go--and perhaps you'll never reach the bottom. My favorite is "The First Book," about the promise of learning to read, ...more
Nov 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
There's a lot here that I can appreciate on a technical, craft level... but it just isn't necessarily my thing. I want to understand Dove's poetry and it feels at once accessible and inaccessible - like I have to work too hard to find out what's being said, and in the end it feels like too much and not enough. ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A slender volume of accessible poems that highlight the lives of black women. I found the book because I was looking up information on the Venus of Villandorf, and one of the poems is about the little goddess, but the poems cover wide-ranging topics.
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lovely. Gets to the root of some deep social concerns (racial identity, racism, poverty and violence) with concision and finesse. But I would expect nothing less from Ms. Dove, who continues to create the most durable and stunning American poetry of our age.
Maxie Steer
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Poignant and beautiful
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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.

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when I didn't know their names?”
“I tell you, if you feel strange,

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