Labeling is a social construct. Words derive their strength only from the power given to them by people, but the implication of an empathetic void or even malicious intent for fellow members of society elicits a visceral and very human response from target and spectator alike. It is used by varying entities consciously and unconsciously, offensively and defensively, but on all fronts requires little effort to create, is self-sustaining and occurs virtually unnoticed.
One of the nation’s foremost poets, Rita Dove has received numerous honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts. She is also the former poet laureate of the United States. Here, in this collection spanning 30 years of her poems, we have the stunning breadth of Dove’s talent on full display.