Grace Notes, Poems

Overview

With this her fourth book of poems, Rita Dove expands her role as a leading voice in contemporary American letters.
The title of the collection serves as an umbrella for the intimate concerns expressed in the forty-eight poems; in music, grace notes are those added to the basic melody, the embellishments that—if played or sung at the right moment with just the right touch—can break your heart.
Isn't this what every lyric poem wishes to be, the ...

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Overview

With this her fourth book of poems, Rita Dove expands her role as a leading voice in contemporary American letters.
The title of the collection serves as an umbrella for the intimate concerns expressed in the forty-eight poems; in music, grace notes are those added to the basic melody, the embellishments that—if played or sung at the right moment with just the right touch—can break your heart.
Isn't this what every lyric poem wishes to be, the poet asks as she explored autobiographical events, most from childhood and the cusp of adolescence, and then turns to the shadowy areas of regret and memory. The word as talisman is another of her concerns, and finally, in the section that most typifies the lilt of grace notes, Dove considers the embellishments below the melody of daily life.

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Editorial Reviews

Minneapolis Star Tribune
“What will impress readers most about Grace Notes is [Dove's] craftsmanship, the richness of her imagery, the delicacy and sureness of her ear. She is moving steadily toward an absolute mastery of her art.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her fourth collection of poems, Dove harvests ripe fruits of the self. Her best lyrics are spare, intense and deeply personal, such as ``Pastoral,'' about breastfeeding her baby, or ``The Wake,'' which begins: ``Your absence distributed itself / like an invitation. / Friends and relatives / keep coming, trying / to fill up the house.'' There are family snapshots etched in memory, sketches of a Midwestern girlhood, of evenings in Jerusalem, of her small daughter struggling to comprehend as her mother details the facts of life. Dove, a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner and associate editor of Callaloo , a journal of Afro-American arts, offers an appreciation of Billie Holiday's voice that is also a meditation on the mythification of women. Her poems blend chiseled imagery, everyday observation, private dramas, political comment. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Thomas and Beulah ( LJ 10/1/89), Dove takes simple memories (drilling with flash cards as a child) or events (her daughter's curiosity about anatomy) and turns them into polished refigurings that are freighted with meaning. Some remarkable images emerge along the way--the ``sun through the trees/ printing her dress with soft/ luminous paws,'' ``the colored-only shore/crisp with litter and broken glass''--but the voice remains strong, steady, quiet, unadorned. That quiet voice protests social injustice more effectively than a thousand polemics, conveys the confusion and wonder of childhood more surely than a thousand sentimental tales. Pared yet luminous, these poems should be read by anyone who loves poetry. Highly recommended.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393306965
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1991
  • Pages: 90
  • Sales rank: 1,010,129
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and musician, lives in Charlottesville, where she is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

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