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-Renee, our moderator for the evening, is an award-winning cross-genre writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, TEDX speaker, and podcaster. Anastacia-Renee is the author of (v.) (Black Ocean Press), Forget It (Black Radish Press), and Answer(Me) (Winged City Chapbook Press). She has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, Ragdale, Mineral School, Hypatia in the Woods and The New Orleans Writers’ Residency. Anastacia-Renee’s work has 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, fiction, and non-fiction have been in Foglifter, Cascadia Magazine, Pinwheel, The Fight and the Fiddle, Glow, The A-Line, Ms. Magazine, Spark, Obsidian Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora, Crab Creek Review, Alta, Catapult and many more.