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Rita Dove: Criticism and Reviews

The Internet Public Library features links to criticism of the works of Rita Dove.

Modern American Poetry has a collection of critical and historical information on Dove and her work.

"Reading the Scars: Rita Dove's The Darker Face of the Earth." (Critical Essay) from African American Review, Spring, 2000, by Theodora Carlisle.

"I, Too, Sing America: Three Centuries of African American Poetry." (Review) (audiobook review) School Library Journal, April, 2000, by Joanne K. Hammond.

"'When the pear blossoms / cast their pale faces on / the darker face of the earth': miscegenation, the primal scene, and the incest motif in Rita Dove's work." (Critical Essay) African American Review, Summer, 2002, by Malin Pereira.

"Rita Dove" by William Logan, as reviewed in Vanity Fair and as included in The New Criterion online.

"Black American Literature at Year 2000: A New Presence" by Robert B. Stepto.

Gale Free Resources

Additional criticism and review of Rita Dove's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

"A Dissonant Triad"
Critic: Helen Vendler.
Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Vol. 16, No. 2, 1991, pp. 391-404.
(Vendler is regarded as one of America's foremost critics of poetry. In the following excerpt from the review, she examines a selection of poems from Grace Notes.)

"…Grace Notes is her fourth book, and represents both a return to the lyric from her successful objective sequence Thomas and Beulah, and an attempt to make her poems weigh less heavily on the page. Her poems are rarely without drama, however…"

"Divided Loyalties: Literal and Literary in the Poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes, Cathy Song and Rita Dove."
Critic: Patracia Wallace.
MELUS, Vol. 18, No. 3, Fall, 1993, pp. 3-19.

"But She Won't Set Foot / In His Turtledove Nash: Gender Roles and Gender Symbolism in Rita Dove's 'Thomas and Beulah.'"
Critic: Emily Walker Cook.
"But She Won't Set Foot / In His Turtledove Nash: Gender Roles and Gender Symbolism in Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah", CLA Journal, Vol. 38, March, 1995, pp. 322-30.

"When Rita Dove wrote the first of the forty-four poems appearing in her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection 'Thomas and Beulah,' she did not anticipate that others would follow. Rather, the writing of each of the collection's poems seemed to necessitate another, until Dove developed a sequence which she molded into a distinctive, unified narrative. Among the many remarkable traits of Dove's chronicle is…"

"Rita Dove: Overview."
Critic: Larry Smith.
Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd ed., edited by Jim Kamp, St. James Press, 1994.

"Rita Dove, America's youngest Poet Laureate, declared in the November/December 1993 Ms., 'Writing poetry is the most intimate of arts... Poetry is one person talking, whispering to another. Connection is one of the most incredible experiences that a human being can have. Connect with your own innermost feelings, render them through language in a poem, then give that to someone else.' In her own poetry and fiction, as well as her teaching and public speaking, Rita Dove has been making those connections…"

"Rita Dove: Overview."
Critic: Julie Miller.
Contemporary Poets, 6th ed., edited by Thomas Riggs, St. James Press, 1996.

"Rita Dove's poetry is concerned with history. Skimming the titles of her poems reveals such figures as Catherine of Alexandria, Nestor, Boccaccio, Shakespeare, and Schumann, as well as Dove's grandparents, Thomas and Beulah. Yet historical fact plays a smaller role in Dove's poetry than does lyrical truth. She seeks…"

"An Overview of 'This Life.'"
Critic: B. J. Bolden.
Poetry for Students, Gale, 1997.
(B. J. Bolden is an Assistant Professor of English at Chicago State University, Chicago, IL. She is the managing editor of Warpland: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas at Chicago State University and the author of Urban Rage in Bronzeville: Social Commentary in the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, 1945-1960.)

"'This Life'" is the opening poem of Rita Dove's first full-length book of poetry, The Yellow House on the Corner, which was based upon her master's thesis. Part one of the book is a retrospective account of random characters and incidents that…"

"Critical Essay on 'Geometry.'"
Critic: David Kelly.
Poetry for Students, Vol. 15, Gale, 2002.

"It would be very easy for readers to oversimplify the message that can be found in Rita Dove's poem 'Geometry,' taking the poem to be nothing more than yet another burlesque of humanity's endless fascination with intellectual order. Read lightly, the poem does in fact seem to suggest that…"

"Critical Essay on 'Geometry.'"
Critic: Judi Ketteler.
Poetry for Students, Vol. 15, Gale, 2002.

"The poem 'Geometry,' by Rita Dove, is a poem about ideas and space and the way in which ideas and space represent possibility and liberation. A mathematical science, the discipline of geometry revolves around precision and around measurements that add up to…"

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