cover image Playlist for the Apocalypse

Playlist for the Apocalypse

Rita Dove.. Norton, $26.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-393-86777-0

In Dove's commanding first collection of new poems since her 2017 NAACP Image Award-winning Collected Poems: 1974-2004, she explores apocalypses in their many forms: climatic, social, personal, and political. From her opening piece commemorating the life of Henry Martin, born into enslavement at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello on the same day Jefferson-"the Great Man"-died, Dove finds powerful moments of grace and resistance in the lives of those who have been oppressed and silenced. These pieces get to the heart of injustice in lines as direct as they are lyrical: "You think/ as long as we stay where/ you've tossed us, on/ the slag heap of your regard,/ the republic is safe." Whether examining the origin of the term ghetto in 16th-century Venice or ruminating on her struggles with illness, Dove's poems hold enormous historical weight and are enriched by her curiosity and keen perceptiveness. For Dove, language presents opportunities for renewed hope; as she writes, "each word caught right is a pawned memory, humbly reclaimed." Dove brilliantly breathes new life into the present age, revealing it as a time for urgent change. (Aug.)