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Information for Our People of Color!!

RITA DOVE

 

Rita Dove was born on this day (August 28th) in 1952, in Akron, Ohio.  She is a well-renowned Poet and Author.  Ms. Dove was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress in 1993, making her the youngest person, and the first African-American to receive this highest official honor in American Letters.  She held this position until 1995.  In 1999 she was re-appointed Special Consultant in Poetry (1999-2000), the Library of Congress’s bicentennial year; and in 2004 Virginia Governor Mark Warner appointed her as a Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a post she served for two years.

Her poetry has won her many awards, and it exemplifies African-American life throughout our history.  Please read below a few of her critically acclaimed, and magnificent works, and pass them on.

“LADY FREEDOM AMONG US”
Don’t lower your eyes or stare straight ahead to where you think you ought to be going.
Don’t mutter, ‘Oh no,’ ‘not another one,’ ‘get a job,’ ‘fly a kite,’ ‘go bury a bone.’
With her old-fashioned sandals, with her leaden skirts, with her stained cheeks and whiskers, and heaped up trinkets, she has risen among us in blunt reproach.
She has fitted her hair under a hand-me-down cap, and spruced it up with feathers and stars,
Slung over one shoulder she bears
The rainbowed layers of charity and murmurs, ‘All of you, even the least of you.’
Don’t cross to the other side of the square, don’t think another item to fit on a tourist’s agenda.
Consider her drenched gaze, her shining brow.
She who brought many back into the streets, and will not retire politely to the potter’s field.
Having assumed the thick skin of this town, it’s gritted exhaust, it’s sun-scorched and blear,
She rests in her weathered plumage – big-boned, resolute.
Don’t think you can ever forget her.  Don’t even try.  She’s not going to budge.
No choice but to grant her space, crown her with the sky,
FOR SHE IS ONE OF THE MANY, AND SHE IS EACH OF US!

“CANARY”
Billie Holiday’s burned voice had as many shadows as lights,
A mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
The gardenia her signature under that ruined face.
(Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass, magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to with your mirror and bracelet of song.)
Fact is, the invention of women under siege has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.
IF YOU CAN’T BE FREE, BE A MYSTERY.

“ROSA”
How she sat there, the time right inside a place so wrong it was ready.
That trim name with its dream of a bench to rest on.  Her sensible coat.
Doing nothing was the doing:  The clean flame of her gaze carved by a camera flash.
HOW SHE STOOD UP WHEN THEY BENT DOWN TO RETRIEVE HER PURSE.  THAT COURTESY.

“TESTIMONIAL”
Back when the earth was new and heaven just a whisper,
Back when names of things hadn’t had time to stick;
Back when the smallest breezes melted summer into autumn,
When all the poplars quivered sweetly in rank and file…
The world called, and I answered.  Each glance ignited a gaze.
I caught my breath and called that life, swooned between spoonfuls of lemon sorbet.
I was pirouette and flourish, I was filigree and flame
How could I count my blessings when I didn’t know their names?
Back when everything was still to come, luck leaked out everywhere.
I GAVE MY PROMISE TO THE WORLD, AND THE WORLD FOLLOWED ME HERE!

Natalie R. Fitten

 

 

 

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