National Poetry Month Celebration 2015
My respect and admiration for Rita Dove is personal. I was introduced to her work in 1995, a time when my adolescent experience was different from anyone that I had ever known. I was transitioning into adulthood and clinging to anything that reminded me that I was not alone in my life experience, that there were common threads between me and other women I’ve never met or would ever meet. While in college my job was to analyze and write at length my interpretation of Rita Dove poems from Mother Love, the poetry I was studying turned into a balm helping me through a quite difficult time.
Surely I am not alone in this experience as many are moved by her words and work. One could only imagine that it was pretty amazing to meet her in person for the first time at Virginia tech while celebrating Toni Morrison in 2012.
Of any of the dozens of things I wished to tell Ms. Dove - that her work inspired me to write poetry; that her topics of mother and daughter were so pivotal to my experience with my own mother; that I was thankful for her as a woman and poet and in some distant faraway way she was like a mentor guiding me as I navigated womanhood in a mother’s absence.
It was by far too intense for me to articulate anything but tears and a “thank you” in the brief moment we met on stage after the program. I mean the picture says it all. But how gracious was she to take another picture where I smiled instead of doing the ugly cry?
What should you do if you ever cry in front of your favorite poet or author?
Has this ever happened to you?