Cover image for Conversations with Rita Dove
Conversations with Rita Dove
Dove, Rita.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, [2003]

Physical Description:
xix, 198 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Riding that current as far as it'll take you / A cage of sound / Entering the world through language / Language is more clay than stone / Writing for those moments of discovery / Gifts to be earned / Having the picture coalesce in a kind of whoosh! / A chorus of voices / Tricking the muse by taking out the trash / Brushed by an angel's wings / Going up is a place of great loneliness / Language is not enough / Not the shouted slogan but the whisper for help
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3554.O884 Z467 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In 1993, Rita Dove (b. 1952) became the nation's youngest and first female African American Poet Laureate. This collection of interviews offers a fascinating portrait of her.

Having published over a half-dozen collections of poetry, Dove won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for Thomas and Beulah . In addition, she has published a novel, Through the Ivory Gate , and her play, The Darker Face of Earth , has been produced on several stages.

Unlike many other writers, Rita Dove has no objection to being interviewed, in part because she enjoys reading interviews. Toni Morrison's, for instance, gave Dove her inspiration as a beginning writer.

In these conversations that range over a decade and a half, she reveals an extraordinary dedication to preserving the integrity of her art, particularly as others intrude upon her to crusade on behalf of racial and gender issues.

Although she regards herself as a feminist and expresses pride in her African American heritage, she leaves crusading outside the door as she enters the writer's workroom. Once inside, she focuses on making each poem stand up to her own exceptionally rigorous standards.

In these conversations the reader meets also the Rita Dove who lives outside the poet's workroom. In addition to writing, she plays the viola de gamba, is addicted to crossword puzzles, and has taken lessons in singing and in ballroom dancing. In response to "What kind of questions are you not asked in interviews that you would like to answer?" she bravely and surprisingly replies, "Personal questions."

Earl G. Ingersoll is distinguished teaching professor of English emeritus at SUNY College at Brockport. His previous books include Conversations with May Sarton (University Press of Mississippi), The Post-Confessionals: Conversations with American Poets of the Eighties (with Judith Kitchen and Stan Sanvel Rubin), and Doris Lessing: Conversations , among others.

Author Notes

Earl G. Ingersoll is distinguished teaching professor of English emeritus at SUNY College at Brockport

Table of Contents

Stan Sanvel Rubin and Judith KitchenGretchen Johnsen and Richard PeabodySusan DavisSusan SwartwoutSteven SchneiderMohamed B. Taleb-KhyarWayne UdeSteven RatinerSteven BellinGrace CavalieriMalin PereiraRobert McDowellEarl G. Ingersoll
Introductionp. ix
Chronologyp. xvii
Riding That Current as Far as It'll Take Youp. 3
A Cage of Soundp. 15
Entering the World through Languagep. 38
Language Is More Clay Than Stonep. 53
Writing for Those Moments of Discoveryp. 62
Gifts to Be Earnedp. 74
Having the Picture Coalesce in a Kind of Whoosh!p. 88
A Chorus of Voicesp. 103
Tricking the Muse by Taking Out the Trashp. 121
Brushed by an Angel's Wingsp. 136
Going Up Is a Place of Great Lonelinessp. 148
Language Is Not Enoughp. 174
Not the Shouted Slogan but the Whisper for Helpp. 180
Indexp. 195