Books & Writing Feminism

When Doves Fly

November 1, 2011

Rita Dove is one of the most astounding  poets in America. I’m brave enough to declare that statement and stand completely behind it. I read Rita Dove, for the first time, in my Contemporary Poetry class. At the time of my encounter with Rita I remember being in a bit of a funk because I was digging so deep in my poetry to reveal the richness in my culture as a black woman. But reading Rita freed me of my fears being to open because she creates a sense of rawness in her pieces that draws readers in! I admire that, greatly. Looking up to her style has helped me decipher the boundary.

Here’s a poem Ms. Dove wrote called “Vacation” that exhibits her balance in description, precision in words, and perfection in rhythm:

I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.



Get the new book if you’re into contemporary poetry . I know I plan on buying it and taking PLENTY of notes!


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  • Reply
    Keli Jones
    November 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of life, people have no recollection of the experience of life’s most simple and commonly encountered moments (which, Im sure, speaks to our overall disconnection). I like Dove’s descriptiveness. You can always appreciate crisply written material 🙂

    • Reply
      November 3, 2011 at 11:38 pm

      thank you keli!!

  • Reply
    Split This Rock | Erika Kimberly
    June 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    […] American Poetry edited by Rita Dove (whom I’ve made no secret about loving and using as my muse). I had to buy the book. I was on a poetry trip after all and what better story for this book to […]

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