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Rita Dove

  • ... they come / from the east, trunk to tail, / clumsy ballerinas.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Five Elephants," The Yellow House on the Corner ()
  • The camels stand in all their vague beauty — / at night they fold up like pale accordions.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Notes From a Tunisian Journal," The Yellow House on the Corner ()
  • You start out with one thing, end / up with another, and nothing's / like it used to be, not even the future.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Ö," The Yellow House on the Corner ()
  • Who discovered usefulness? / Who forgot how to sing, simply?

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Exeunt the Viols," Museum ()
  • I change jobs like drinking water ... And as I grow accustomed to the new flavor of a drink I regard as delicious, yes, vital, something fades, life balks. So I break camp; I shed skins.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Damon and Vandalia," Fifth Sunday ()
  • What's a word, a talisman, to hold against the world?

    • Rita Dove,
    • The Other Side of the House
    • ()
  • When the right man smiled it would be / music skittering up her calf / like a chuckle.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Summit Beach, 1921," Grace Notes ()
  • Everybody who's anybody longs to be a tree — / or ride one, hair blown to froth. / That's why horses were invented ...

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Horse and Tree," Grace Notes ()
  • Here's a riddle for Our Age: when the sky's the limit, / how can you tell you've gone too far?

    • Rita Dove,
    • "And Counting," Grace Notes ()
  • ... anecdotes, / The poor man's history.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "The Gorge," Grace Notes ()
  • Listen how they say your name. If they can't say that right, there's no way they're going to know how to treat you proper, neither.

  • To me, a poem is almost like someone whispering to another person, or you hear the whispering in your head. I hope with my own poems that the reader feels a connection, soul to soul, that'll help us all feel a little less alone on the planet. And it does have the power to direct change. A writer can make the word 'dark' be something positive. You can relieve a word like 'hysterical' of its misogynistic implications. You can make the language your own. That's what poetry is about.

    • Rita Dove,
    • Anthem
    • ()
  • Courage has nothing to do with our determination to be great. It has to do with what we decide in that moment when we are called upon to be more.

    • Rita Dove,
    • in Katherine Martin, Women of Courage ()
  • Crassly put: When I write, I am trying not to bore myself and my readers.

    • Rita Dove,
    • in O: The Oprah Magazine ()
  • Poetry connects you to yourself, to the self that doesn't know how to talk or negotiate.

    • Rita Dove
  • Don't be so fast, / you're all you've got.

    • Rita Dove
  • The library is an arena of possibility, opening both a window into the soul and a door onto the world.

    • Rita Dove
  • Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.

    • Rita Dove
  • The house, shut up like a pocket watch, / those tight hearts breathing inside — / she could never invent them.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Obedience," Thomas and Beulah ()
  • If you can't be free, be a mystery.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Canary," Grace Notes ()
  • A good poem is like a bouillon cube. It’s concentrated, you carry it around with you, and it nourishes you when you need it.

    • Rita Dove,
    • in Jack E. White, "Rooms of Their Own," Time ()
  • Poetry is the purest of the language arts. It’s the tightest cage, and if you can get to sing in that cage it’s really really wonderful.

    • Rita Dove,
    • in Poetry Flash ()

Rita Dove, U.S. poet, writer


Full name: Rita Frances Dove.