Rita Dove | Poetry All-Stars

Rita Dove
1952 - 

In 1987, Rita Dove was one of the youngest poets to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Dove also became the youngest poet laureate of the United States in 1993. Currently, Dove is a professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Dove's poem "Rosa" is about Rosa Parks, an African American woman who challenged racial prejudice. Park's refusal to sit in the back of an Alabama bus in 1955 was a landmark of the civil rights movement.

 

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.

"Rosa" from On the Bus With Rosa Parks, W. W. Norton, © 1999 by Rita Dove. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

 

Photo courtesy University of Virginia