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Playlist for the Apocalypse: Poems

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Notes From Black Reads

In 2020, we were treated to new works by such tried and true poets as Margaret Atwood, Nikki Giovanni and Barbara Kingsolver. This year, we rejoice in a new book by Rita Dove. All of these authors have much in their hearts and pens to teach readers and budding poets of all ages. A collective bow to Dove for delivering in 2021. Her words are valuable ANY TIME. But now, this year, seems to be the perfect and right time.

Finalist for the 2022 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Poetry

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 the contemporary efforts of Black Lives Matter, a girls’ night clubbing in the shadow of World War II or the doomed nobility of Muhammad Ali’s conscious objector stance, this extraordinary poet never fails to connect history’s grand exploits to the triumphs and tragedies of individual lives.

Meticulously orchestrated and musical in its forms, Playlist for the Apocalypse collects a dazzling array of voices: an elevator operator simmers with resentment, an octogenarian dances an exuberant mambo, a spring cricket philosophizes with mordant humor on hip hop, critics, and Valentine’s Day. Calamity turns all too personal in the book’s final section, “Little Book of Woe,” which charts a journey from terror to hope as Dove learns to cope with debilitating chronic illness.

At turns audaciously playful and grave, alternating poignant meditations on mortality and acerbic observations of injustice, Playlist for the Apocalypse takes us from the smallest moments of redemption to catastrophic failures of the human soul. Listen up, the poet says, speaking truth to power; what you’ll hear in return is “a lifetime of song.”

ISBN-13: 9781324050438

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Norton W. W. & Company Inc.

Publication Date: 03-28-2023

Pages: 128

Product Dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate, is the only poet honored with both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts. A professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia, she lives in Charlottesville.