Two Poems by Rita Dove on Her Birthday

Rita Dove was born August 28, 1952, in Akron, Ohio; American poet and essayist; winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book Thomas and Beulah; U.S. Library of Congress Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, 1993-1995, the first African-American (after the title change from Poetry Consultant to Poet Laureate), and at age 40, the youngest poet to be appointed Poet Laureate by the Librarian of Congress. Her poetry collections include The Yellow House on the Corner, Mother Love, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, and American Smooth.

To read Rita Dove’s poems “Adolescence I” and “Dawn Revisted” click:



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Adolescence I

by Rita Dove

In water-heavy nights behind grandmother’s porch
We knelt in the tickling grasses and whispered:
Linda’s face hung before us, pale as a pecan,
And it grew wise as she said:
‘A boy’s lips are soft,
As soft as baby’s skin.’
The air closed over her words.
A firefly whirred near my ear, and in the distance
I could hear streetlamps ping
Into miniature suns
Against a feathery sky.


“Adolescence I” from Selected Poems, © 1983, 1986, 1993  by Rita Dove – Vintage Books

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 Dawn Revisited

by Rita Dove

Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don’t look back,

the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits –
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours

to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You’ll never know
who’s down there, frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see


“Dawn Revisited” from On the Bus with Rosa Parks, © 1999 by Rita Dove – W.W. Norton & Company

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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