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American Smooth: Poems Paperback – 17 Feb 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (17 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393327442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393327441
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,308,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Dove, with her precise, singing lines, eliminates the impure, the wrong notes, the clutter and the waste to reach straight to the heart of experiences so that emotion rings true."

About the Author

Rita Dove is the recipient of many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is a Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia and lives in Charlottesville.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
American Smooth is a poem which has great feeling and understanding of The Slow Foxtrot. Only a dancer could have written it that way.
I think however, this may be" best in book", but haven't spent enough time to give a fair analysis.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e4613b4) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e7a433c) out of 5 stars 'there would be no dance, and there is only the dance' -- t.s. eliot 21 Feb. 2011
By Case Quarter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
rita dove is possibly the most humorless poet i've had the pleasure to read. i would go so far as to say the persona of American Smooth is deadly serious. the first two poems, All Souls' and "I Have Been a Stranger in a Strange Land", situated in the garden of eden, retell the explusion of the first couple and the transgression of the first woman. the poet's omission of the sword bearing cherubim barring re-entry to the garden, and the comforting weight `of the red heft ... warming her outstretched palm.', at first glance alerts us to a forbidden apple. dove, however, who does not mention the angel also does not, nor the book of genesis, name the fruit as a shiny red apple. i won't expand on these biblical symbols any more than to point to the word `heft' as often used in association with a weapon -- in this case, not the heft of a sword hilt, but the grip of a gun, and the red as a corrective yeatsian mythic touch.

calibration, smoothness, heft, the execution of motion, are words located in the language of dance -- and the language of guns. memories of dances fill the first section, and the poem Meditation at Fifty Yards, Moving Target, the first piece of found poetry in the collection, reads like instructions from a shooting pamphlet.

the second section, Not Welcome Here, chronicles the experiences of african-americans who enlisted during the first world war and their encounters with the stupidity of american racism which arguably endangered the fighting power of our military forces.

in the third section, Twelve Chairs, rita dove travels to the federal court house in sacramento, california (where else for justice?), to find words carved on the backs of twelve marble chairs as part of an installation by larry kirkland for her twelve poems.

in dance the man leads, so it is with the male voices of the second section, and the woman responds in the fourth section in Blues in Half-Tones, ¾ Time, with romance and dance, female pleasures not without their hard histories as dove tells in the grisly tale of The Seven Veils of Salomé and the story of the imprisonment and execution of valentinus who is remembered with red hearts, chocolate and flowers.

the fifth section, Evening Primrose, compiles mostly poetic reflections, poems from another poet's pen which might be labeled whimsical, but in dove's hand, given the hard histories of the preceding sections, contextually, her work can neither be slighted nor dismissed, displaying nothing less than a sensibility and execution, when fully appreciated, that startles and awes like well executed ballroom dance movements. for those who require a poetic precursor, i suggest one, robert lowell.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e80524c) out of 5 stars Dance in American Smooth 28 Nov. 2009
By Melissa G. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
American Smooth by Rita Dove is as imaginative and lyrical as its name. From the very beginning, the reader learns that American Smooth is a dance form then soon finds that the poems emulate dance in lyrical form. For example title poem "American Smooth" has a rhythm that rises and falls like dancers. The poem expresses the confines of the dancers in traditional dance forms to keep together and maintain frame. This is contrasted to the freedom that is found in American Smooth, a dance for that promotes improvisation and individual expression, which allows the dancer to "achieve flight" before the judgment of others makes the her return to earth. The poem expresses the universal want of individualism with the fear of the judgment of others that often hinders unique expression.
The section "Not Welcome Here" gives a voice to the African-American soldiers in World War I. The poems are artfully crafted, but they make the reader wonder how Dove has so much experience with a war that was fought before she was born. The notes to the text indicate that she has read several books about the war; however, the emotions and experience would be much different when reading about a war ninety years later than living or fighting in that time.
Other themes expressed in the poetry are jazz music, childhood memories, love and regret. A personal favorite is the poem "Brown" where Dove expresses a love for her skin color. It begins by a dress maker exclaiming that the speaker looks good in every color. Again, there is reference to dance because the speaker is at a ball in a country club. The speaker expresses her love of the way that her brown skin glows against fuchsia and citron dresses and her desire to make a grand entrance. One again Dove is exploring the desire to be an individual in the midst of a culture that prizes conformity.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f1422dc) out of 5 stars Thrilling Collection 25 Oct. 2004
By Nick Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dove's keen, deliberate voice in "American Smooth" is as brilliant as ever. In each poem, the gut-true, but never easy, illuminations of individual subject become gorgeous music. Dove masterfully evokes specific moments of joy and disappointment, beauty and carelessness, honor and neglect. The title, "American Smooth" refers, in part, to a form of ballroom dancing. These poems are just as lean and graceful and sophisticated as any great dancer's best moves. I want to go everywhere Rita Dove's work leads, because when I come back, I'm never quite the same.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e6d28b8) out of 5 stars The Sweetest Word 2 Dec. 2004
By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Rita Dove is a highly acclaimed poet and a former Poet Laureate of the United States with many accolades and honors. Her latest publication, AMERICAN SMOOTH, is a collection of forty-four poems infused with the history of World War I, the enjoyment of dancing, and issues of everyday life.

My favorite selections are "Meditation at Fifty Yards, Moving Target", which makes shooting a gun sound so poetic and "Heart to Heart" which downplays the myths one associates with the heart (shape and color), and all the cliches individuals use in terms of it (from the bottom of my heart), and breaks down what it really is (muscle) and what people need to keep it going (love).

Although I was not able to enjoy the collection in it's entirety, I enjoyed several of the poetic offerings similar to those mentioned above. Those that I did not identify with were well written, its just that I was not able to relate to those pieces, but that is the beauty of poetry, there is something for everyone.

Reviewed by Aiesha Flowers

of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
HASH(0x8e6d13f0) out of 5 stars I did not enjoy this book as this is not what I consider ... 7 July 2016
By Char L - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did not enjoy this book as this is not what I consider to be poetry. I did find some of it very interesting. I was just anticipating something beautiful and mood boosting, and that was not my reaction.
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