Rita Dove, Poet Discusses the Arts, Words, and Literature in the age of Trump

From Salon.com | Article By David Masciotra


Image: Rita Dove | Image Credit: University of Virgina

Earlier this week, I interviewed Rita Dove about the power of poetry and the necessity of the arts, especially in times of political trouble and terror.

You once said that poetry deals with the “unremarked upon.” Could you please elaborate on that to begin our conversation?

Poetry pulls us back into a focus of our impressions as we move through the world. These are things that are unremarked upon because they are too sensitive, or they are considered things that we experience every day, like how the air feels as you walk along on a spring day and the wind catches the hairs on your arms. It goes from that point to the thoughts that are swirling around our minds, but we feel it is better not to express them. We all have a maelstrom of thoughts, particularly now with what is going on, and we are struggling to articulate. So, if someone says to us, “How are you doing?” We can say, “I’m doing well, considering.” That “considering” contains multitudes.

Now, what poetry does is try to remind us of those multitudes. It tries to articulate the complexity of all that we seem not to be able to say. It deals with the silences we impose on ourselves, and the silences that occur when we have no words to capture how we feel. So, when a poem does well, it makes us feel stronger afterwards, because now there is an utterance that someone else has made that reminds us we are not totally crazy. That is the philosophical utility of poetry, but it also stops time for a moment, which is something we don’t do much anymore….

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