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Rita Dove
Commonwealth Professor of English, University of Virginia-Charlottesville; the first African-American to be named Poet Laureate of the United States; Winner of 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

"The Poet at the Dance"
Humanities Lecture Series

Thu., Nov. 11, 2004, 7:30pm
Location: Lied Center
Poet Rita Dove will round out the fall semester of the Humanities Lecture Series with ?The Poet at the Dance,? November 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lied Center. Dove?s contribution to the series promises to be more literary presentation than dry lecture. She prefers to give readings of her poems, interspersed with snippets of commentary, autobiography and descriptions of life as a professional writer.

Rita Dove is a former Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, the youngest person and the first African-American to hold these positions. She published her first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner, in 1980. That work dealt primarily with personal experiences of adolescence and romantic encounters, but also delved into slave narrative and African American history. The collection earned Dove the attention of her peers. It only takes reading a few lines from the eponymous poem to see why.

?Shape the lips to an o, say a. That's island .
One word of Swedish has changed the whole neighborhood.
When I look up, the yellow house on the corner
is a galleon stranded in flowers. Around it
the wind. Even the high roar of a leaf-mulcher
could be the horn blast from a ship
as it skirts the misted shoals.?

Dove charted another milestone with the publication of Thomas and Beulah in 1986. The collection of interrelated poems, loosely based on the life of her grandparents, earned the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Dove is the second African American poet to be so honored, the first was Gwendolyn Brooks in 1950. The first half of Thomas and Beulah follows the point of view of Dove?s grandfather, while the second half gives her grandmother the last word. In ?Dusting,? Beulah goes about her daily chores while daydreaming about an old love.

?Every day a wilderness?no
shade in sight. Beulah
patient among knickknacks,
the solarium a rage
of light, a rainstorm
as her gray cloth brings
dark wood to life.

Under her hand scrolls
and crests gleam
darker still. What
was his name, that
silly boy at the fair with
the rifle booth? And his kiss and
the clear bowl with one bright
fish, rippling
wound!

Dove is the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her other publications include a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1989), the poetry collections Grace Notes (1989), Selected Poems (1993) and Mother Love (1995). She is also the author of the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992) and the verse drama The Darker Face of the Earth (1994). Her latest collection of poetry, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, was published in 1999.

Partial funding for the Humanities Lecture Series is provided by The National Endowment for the Humanities' 2000 Challenge Grant

Co-sponsored by KPR

This event is free and open to the public.

Thurs., Nov. 11, 2004
7:30 p.m.
Lied Center
Wk Su M T W Th F Sa

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