≡ Menu

Rita Dove Quotes

Rita Frances Dove

Rita Dove quotes: the American poet and essayist sounds off.

“The American Dream is a phrase we’ll have to wrestle with all of our lives. It means a lot of things to different people. I think we’re redefining it now.”

“Nothing is too small. Nothing is too, quote-unquote, ordinary or insignificant. Those are the things that make up the measure of our days, and they’re the things that sustain us.”

“Courage has nothing to do with our determination to be great. It has to do with what we decide in that moment when we are called upon to be more.”

“You have to imagine it possible before you can see something. You can have the evidence right in front of you, but if you can’t imagine something that has never existed before, it’s impossible.”

“If only the sun-drenched celebrities are being noticed and worshiped, then our children are going to have a tough time seeing the value in the shadows, where the thinkers, probers and scientists are keeping society together.”

“Being true to yourself really means being true to all the complexities of the human spirit.”

“There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.”

“I think you should take advantage of your accidents where you encounter them.”

“There can be no greater empowerment than to dare to speak from the heart—and then to discover that one is not alone in one’s feelings.”

“You never know what small serendipity, what detail, will influence you. That’s how it works.”

“If we really want to be full and generous in spirit, we have no choice but to trust at some level.”

“My father is a chemist, my mother was a homemaker. My parents instilled in us the feeling that learning was the most exciting thing that could happen to you, and it never ends.”

“We should always do something that makes us feel like a child again. Keep learning, no matter what it is.”

“Without imagination we can go nowhere. And imagination is not restricted to the arts. Every scientist I have met who has been a success has had to imagine.”

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”

“Under adversity, under oppression, the words begin to fail, the easy words begin to fail. In order to convey things accurately, the human being is almost forced to find the most precise words possible, which is a precondition for literature.”

“Sometimes a word is found so right it trembles
at the slightest explanation.”

“It’s about using words in very precise ways and using gesture.”

“What writing does is to reveal.”

“I wish someone had told me that my stories are really mine to tell. In other words, anything that I think is important or that has moved me has the ability to move somebody else.”

“Creative writing and literacy go hand in hand.”

“It really wasn’t until I was in college when I began to write more and more, and I realized I was scheduling my entire life around my writing.”

“The joy of working at something to find out what it means to me is what I grew up with.”

“My inspiration comes from everywhere, just walking down the street and I never know where it’s going to come from, so I keep a notebook with me at all times and the only criteria for anything making it into that notebook is if it stops me in my tracks for even an instant, if it catches my eye or my ear, and I just write it down.”

“I change jobs like drinking water. And as I grow accustomed to the new flavor of a drink I regard as delicious, yes, vital, something fades, life balks. So I break camp; I shed skins.”

“I thought, after the Pulitzer, at least nothing will surprise me quite that much in my life. And another one happened. It was quite amazing.”

“I was appointed Poet Laureate. It came totally out of the blue because most Poet Laureates had been considerably older than I. It was not something that I even had begun to dream about!”

“My life still seems so unreal to me. See, I don’t ever think about the prizes I’ve received; I can’t imagine carrying around that kind of self-consciousness on a daily basis. I also don’t dwell on the memory of writing a particular poem or being in some fabled place. Each day I get up and there’s the page, waiting. Every time is like the very first time.”

“If not for poetry, what would I be doing? I would have been a musician. I would have continued playing the cello. I can’t imagine what else I would do. I don’t know—to read and write for a living, and through the reading and writing be able to travel, to invent worlds through words and yet understand more about myself as I’m writing—this is the dream I’ve been living, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“I was very lucky.”

“Libraries are where it all begins.”

“The library is an arena of possibility, opening both a window into the soul and a door onto the world.”

“When we are touched by something it’s as if we’re being brushed by an angel’s wings.”

“I loved to read, but I always thought that the dream was too far away.”

“Can it be that even as one grows to fit the space one lives in, one cannot grow until there’s space to grow?”

“All of us have moments in our childhood where we come alive for the first time. And we go back to those moments and think, ‘This is when I became myself.'”

“Anyone can tell you that how you’re raised as a child has a great deal to do with how you behave as an adult and whether you have complexes or whether you need to prove yourself or all that kind of stuff and yet the mother in a traditional family who has raised a child never makes it in the history books.”

“There is not going to be any change unless we can begin to talk about any little fear, any little hatred, any little bias that we might have and to admit that all human beings have them.”

“If you can’t be free, be a mystery.”

“Life always carries the feeling that your days are numbered. You never know when something momentous—good or bad—is going to happen.”

“Don’t be so fast, you’re all you’ve got.”

“Keep aspiring—stay curious, hungry, alive.”

Cory Johnson: likes bumping #OnRepeat through the Bang & Olufsen sound system in his naturally aspirated V10; post-workout pumps; big boobs; dumb comedy; and your mom’s potato salad. He hates awkward handshakes. But who cares? Let’s talk about you.