Rita Dove Poems

Rita Dove is an important American poet born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio. She graduated with an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and won the Pulitzer Prize for Thomas and Beulah. Her work is noted for its ability to capture contemporary social issues.

Claudette Colvin Goes to Work

by Rita Dove

‘Claudette Colvin Goes to Work’ by Rita Dove depicts the life and struggles of Claudette Colvin, who is best known as a civil rights activist.

This is a wonderful Rita Dove poem that taps into subjects that she is well-known for writing about. This includes racial discrimination, historically important figures, the lives of Black Americans, and much more. This is certainly one of the best poems she wrote in her career and one of the most widely relatable despite it's very specific context.

Menial twilight sweeps the storefronts along Lexington 

as the shadows arrive to take their places

among the scourge of the earth. Here and there

a fickle brilliance lightbulbs coming on

American Smooth

by Rita Dove

‘American Smooth’ is a thought-provoking poem in which Dove describes a memorable moment between two dance partners. 


by Rita Dove

Rita Dove’s ‘Canary’ is a short poem that commemorates the life of Billie Holiday, an African American jazz singer.

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by Rita Dove

In the poem, ‘Rosa’ by Rita Dove is a short and powerful piece that relays the story of Rosa Parks in simple and memorable terms.

How she sat there,

the time right inside a place

so wrong it was ready.

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