About The Poet
‘Rosa’ by Rita Dove- Rita is a poet, teacher, novelist, playwright—Rita Dove is a master of many genres. She has overcome obstacles, pushed important messages through her writing, and continues to make history today! Not only has she been celebrated for her powerful writing on topics ranging from race to love, her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah, is revered by writers and readers alike.
Her poem Rosa quickly became one of the most popular poems to read. Later Rita came out with an additional collection, On The Bus With Rosa Parks.
‘Rosa’ By Rita Dove
That trim name with
its dream of a bench
to rest on. Her sensible coat.
Doing nothing was the doing:
the clean flame of her gaze
carved by a camera flash.
How she stood up
when they bent down to retrieve
her purse. That courtesy.
Let’s take a look at the life and work of this incredible poet.
Rita Frances Dove was born in Akron, Ohio on August 28th, 1952 to Ray Dove, an engineer at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and Elvira Hord, a social worker.
She attended Buchtel High School in Akron before attending Miami University. During her time at Miami University, she was also the editor of the student newspaper. This allowed her to first take control of an audience. At the University, she also was one of only two African American students in her graduating class.
From there, she went on to earn her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1977. Later, she taught creative writing at Arizona State University and was named US Poet Laureate in 1993, a position she held until 1995. She currently works at the University of Virginia in its distinguished Creative Writing program.
Rita Dove was the youngest person in the position and the first African American to do so since the title was officially designated.
What is Rita Dove Most Known For?
Rita Dove’s poetry tends to focus on themes of identity, race, gender, and the complexities of being an African-American woman. Though she is known for her exploration of these themes through different genres like poetry, fiction, plays, and even librettos (the text of an opera).
Rita has a unique style that incorporates both traditional forms with more modern techniques like free verse. Often writing in blank verse—a form that consists of unrhymed lines that are typically written in iambic pentameter—but also incorporates elements like free verse and rhyme into her poems. This combination gives her works a distinctive quality that sets them apart from other contemporary poets.
Rita Dove is a fantastic example of how to approach Women’s History Month: with courage, creativity, and strength. Throughout her career, she has explored issues of race and identity with thoughtful consideration and poise. This has melds beauty into a powerful sentiment that resonates strongly with her readers.
What Is Rita Dove’s Most Famous Poem?
Without a doubt, Rita Dove’s most famous collection is Thomas and Beulah, published in 1986 by Carnegie-Mellon University Press. Technically, this is not one poem but instead a collection of poems – for which Dove received the Pulitzer Prize for in the following year.
Individually, Dove’s most popular poems include:
- American Smooth
- Cozy Apologia
- Dawn Revisited
- The Breathing, the Endless News
- Demeter’s Prayer to Hades
Whether it be novels or poetry, Dove uses her writing to speak profoundly to so many people. Her work has not only honed in on those struggling with their identity in modern times, but to anyone looking for meaningful stories from which to learn and grow.
For Women’s History Month especially, her works are invaluable and serve as sources of both joy and important insight. To continue reading about Women Who Broke Barriers, check out our other article on Women Equality.