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Rita Dove: American Poet

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley's thoughtful and engaging documentary profiles former poet laureate Rita Dove, exploring her life, influences, and formative experiences through on-camera interviews, still images, and home movie clips. Between short chapters focusing on one or another of Dove's memories or impressions, the poet recites one of her poems (with the words presented onscreen). Among other topics, Dove discusses how she is a child of the great post–World War II migration of African Americans, her grandparents and parents having moved from the Deep South to the industrialized North. Raised in Akron, OH, Dove developed a sense of wonder and possibility in part thanks to her father, a taciturn chemist who took little Rita on stargazing outings with his telescope. Dove also talks about the impact of the tumultuous 1960s on her awareness of the world—particularly the Civil Rights movement. And she reflects upon the role of the church in her life, her time in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship, and an incident in which she and other young poets were invited to meet President Nixon at the White House—only to be turned away. Offering a nicely crafted biographical portrait of a key figure in American literature, this is recommended. Aud: H, C, P. (T. Keogh)

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