Playlist for the Apocalypse Poems

Rita Dove

Book - 2021

"A piercing, unflinching new volume offers necessary music for our tumultuous present, from "perhaps the best public poet we have" (Boston Globe). In her first volume of new poems in twelve years, Rita Dove investigates the vacillating moral compass guiding America's, and the world's, experiments in democracy. Whether depicting the first Jewish ghetto in sixteenth-century Venice or Black Lives Matter, this extraordinary poet never fails to connect history's grand exploits to the triumphs and tragedies of individual lives-the simmering resentment of an elevator operator, an octogenarian's exuberant mambo, the mordant humor of a philosophizing cricket. Audaciously playful yet grave, alternating poignant medi...tations on mortality and acerbic observations of injustice, Playlist for the Apocalypse takes us from the smallest moments of redemption to apocalyptic failures of the human soul"--

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New York, NY : W. W. Norton & Company [2021]
Main Author
Rita Dove (author)
First edition
Physical Description
114 pages ; 22 cm
  • Prose in a Small Space
  • Time's Arrow
  • Bellringer
  • Lucille, Post-Operative Years
  • Family Reunion
  • Girls on the Town, 1946
  • Eurydice, Turning
  • Scarf
  • From the Sidelines
  • Mirror
  • Found Sonnet: The Wig
  • Trans-
  • Climacteric
  • Island
  • Vacation
  • A-wing'
  • After Egypt
  • Little Town
  • Foundry
  • Sarra's Answer
  • Sarra's Blues
  • Aubade: The Constitutional
  • Sketch for Terezín
  • Orders of the Day
  • Transit
  • Declaration of Interdependence
  • Elevator Man, 1949
  • Youth Sunday
  • Aubade East
  • Trayvon, Redux
  • Aubade West
  • Naji, 14. Philadelphia.
  • Ghettoland: Exeunt
  • Spring Cricket
  • The Spring Cricket Considers the Question of Negritude
  • The Spring Cricket Repudiates His Parable of Negritude
  • The Spring Cricket's Grievance: Little Outburst
  • The Spring Cricket Observes Valentine's Day
  • The Spring Cricket's Discourse on Critics
  • Hip Hop Cricket
  • Postlude
  • A Standing Witness
  • Beside the Golden Door
  • Your Tired, Your Poor ...
  • Bridged Air
  • Giant
  • Huddle
  • Woman, Aflame
  • Mother of Exiles
  • Wretched
  • Limbs Astride, Land to Land
  • World-Wide Welcome
  • Imprisoned Lightning
  • Send These to Me
  • Keep Your Storied Pomp
  • The Sunset Gates
  • Eight Angry Odes
  • The Angry Odes: An Introduction
  • Pedestrian Crossing, Charlottesville
  • Ode on a Shopping List Found in Last Season's Shorts
  • Insomnia Etiquette
  • Ode to My Right Knee
  • Anniversary
  • Shakespeare Doesn't Care
  • A Sonnet for the Sonnet
  • Little Book of Woe
  • Soup
  • Pearl on Wednesdays
  • The Terror and the Pity
  • No Color
  • Blues, Straight
  • Borderline Mambo
  • Voiceover
  • Rosary
  • Green Koan
  • Last Words
  • This Is the Poem I Did Not Write
  • Rive d'Urale
  • Mercy
  • Wayfarer's Night Song
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

This is Dove's first new collection in a dozen years, following her Collected Poems, 1974--2004 (2016), and it is a potent and many-chambered volume showcasing the highly awarded former U.S. Poet Laureate's signature gift for historical illumination, especially in sharp and poignant portraits of marginalized figures. Here her subjects include Henry Martin, born into slavery at Monticello the day Thomas Jefferson died and who served as the Rotunda bellringer at the University of Virginia, where Dove is a professor, for more than 50 years. Sarra Copia Sullam (1592--1641) was confined to Venice's Jewish ghetto yet became a prominent literary and intellectual luminary. In "The Standing Witness," a song cycle of searing concision inspired by the Statue of Liberty, Dove considers the American story from the assassinations of 1968 through the reign of Muhammad Ali, Roe v. Wade, AIDS, 9/11, the Obama presidency, and the whiplash of Trump. Here, too, are poems of pirouetting wit and jujitsu power about family, food, nature, memory, complacency, protest, and her own valiant battle for health. Dove is a poet of profound perspective, genius, and grace.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In Dove's commanding first collection of new poems since her 2017 NAACP Image Award-winning Collected Poems: 1974-2004, she explores apocalypses in their many forms: climatic, social, personal, and political. From her opening piece commemorating the life of Henry Martin, born into enslavement at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello on the same day Jefferson-"the Great Man"-died, Dove finds powerful moments of grace and resistance in the lives of those who have been oppressed and silenced. These pieces get to the heart of injustice in lines as direct as they are lyrical: "You think/ as long as we stay where/ you've tossed us, on/ the slag heap of your regard,/ the republic is safe." Whether examining the origin of the term ghetto in 16th-century Venice or ruminating on her struggles with illness, Dove's poems hold enormous historical weight and are enriched by her curiosity and keen perceptiveness. For Dove, language presents opportunities for renewed hope; as she writes, "each word caught right is a pawned memory, humbly reclaimed." Dove brilliantly breathes new life into the present age, revealing it as a time for urgent change. (Aug.)

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