Rita Dove is a celebrated poet, prose writer, editor, musician, and former Poet Laureate of the United States—the youngest to have served in the role. Known for works of lyricism and beauty, Dove applies an unflinching eye to historical and political events. In fact, her tremendous impact on American letters has come not only through her writing but her advocacy work; the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is the only poet honored with both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts.
Her first volume of new poems in twelve years, Playlist for the Apocalypse, is Dove’s poignant meditation on injustice: an investigation of the vacillating moral compass guiding America’s—and the world’s—experiments in democracy.
Q&A with Anastacia-Reneé.
Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995 and Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She is the author of the novel Through the Ivory Gate, as well as a collection of stories, a verse drama, a book of essays, and five books of poetry, among them Thomas and Beulah, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. The recipient of numerous literary fellowships and awards, Dove is also the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia and a trained classical cellist and gambist.
Her newest volume of poems, Playlist for the Apocalypse, has been described by the Boston Globe as, “A piercing, unflinching new volume [that] offers necessary music for our tumultuous present, from perhaps the best public poet we have.”
In Playlist for the Apocalypse, Dove investigates the vacillating moral compass guiding America’s, and the world’s, experiments in democracy. Whether depicting the first Jewish ghetto in sixteenth century Venice or Black Lives Matter, this extraordinary poet never fails to connect history’s grand exploits to the triumphs and tragedies of individual lives―the simmering resentment of an elevator operator, an octogenarian’s exuberant mambo, the mordant humor of a philosophizing cricket.
Audaciously playful yet grave, alternating poignant meditations on mortality and acerbic observations of injustice, Playlist for the Apocalypse takes us from the smallest moments of redemption to apocalyptic failures of the human soul.
Anastacia-Reneé, our moderator for the evening, is a writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, TEDx Speaker and podcaster. She is a 2020 Arc Fellow(4Culture) and Jack Straw Curator. Renee is the recipient of the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award for Washington Artist (2018), Seattle Civic Poet (2017-2019), and Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House (2015-2017). Renee has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Ragdale, Mineral School, and The New Orleans Writers Residency. Her poems and essays have been anthologized in: Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, Spirited Stone: Lessons from Kubota’s Garden,Seismic: Seattle City of Literature and her poetry and fiction have appeared in, Spark, Foglifter, Auburn Avenue, Catapult, Alta, Torch, and many more.