Collected Poems: 1974–2004

Rita Dove. Norton, $39.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-393-28594-9
This substantive and enriching decades-spanning volume charts the work of Dove (Sonata Mulattica)—a Pulitzer Prize recipient, former U.S. poet laureate, and Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal recipient—as she forged her legacy from a sharp, unflinching eye that skillfully turned history into collective memory. Dove’s virtuosity keeps her poems from feeling trite or recycled. Poems such as “Hattie McDaniel Arrives at the Coconut Grove” take a historical event and treat it with tenderness, using the second person to heighten the intimacy between reader and subject: “dear Mammy we can’t help but hug you crawl into/ your generous lap.” Whether experimental or lyrical, Dove’s poems work as hypnotizing incantations. She slips into the fantastical dramatics of myth in poems from 1995’s Mother Love, which uses the Greek tale of Persephone and Hades as foundation for a modernized tragedy of toxic lust and the limits of a mother’s love. Instead of a Greek maiden falling prey to a scheming god of the underworld, Dove’s Persephone is a naive black girl seduced by the promise of Paris and a Frenchman who “was good/ with words, words that went straight to the liver.” Through her alluring language, Dove has long made the exceedingly difficult seem effortless; each poem here is a testament to her brilliance. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-393-28595-6
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-393-35493-5
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