A Moyers & Dove Poetry Duet

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You’ve never seen a duet like this before. In this January, 2012 Moyers Moment from Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove — honored by President Obama with the National Medal of Arts — take turns reading from “The Hill,”  by Edgar Lee Masters. “The Hill” was included in the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, which was edited by Dove.

See the full conversation between Bill Moyers and Rita Dove.

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  • Angela Thomas

    It’s great to see Moyers with the poet, Rita Dove. I have enjoyed his book, “Language of Life, ” and watching his interviews from the Dodge Festival. What a talent!

  • Bill Martin

    Didn’t Ms Dove misinterprete the poem “As I sit and sew?” What if the same poem by a Abraham Lincoln was “As I chop the wood”? Then it would become a poem about the trivial mundane of life as horrors happen all around. It would be a poem of a person who continues to carry on the trivial responsibilities of house and home waiting for God to provide a chance for greater impact.

  • Bill Martin

    You need me, Christ! It is no roseate dream
    That beckons me—this pretty futile seam,
    It stifles me—God, must I sit and sew?
    — Dunbar-Nelson

    If a young Lincoln had written “this splintered futile wood” in a poem called “As I chop this wood”, wouldn’t the same poem have echoed Isaiah’s, “here I am Lord”? For Ms Dove to tell us that this poem is about women’s liberation is to stifle the poem in the context of her own personal concerns. This poem is bigger than that!

  • Jim Carr

    I appreciate all the political/economic information shared by your guests and feel it is of utmost significance for the public to be informed by your program as is not found on most media today!

    I have to say,  your guest Rita Dove really moved me. Her passion for poetry and the way she recognizes how deeply  it can touch the human heart is a beautiful gift. Thank you both!  

  • pmh

    “the trivial responsibilities of house and home….”

    wherein lies, for some, the chance for “greater impact.” 

  • Cheralcanna

    What a great idea to include a poem in each days announcements to school children.  Someone should publish an age appropriate collection with 180 poems for each of the school days.  We could give them an appreciation of their language and a knowledge of the power of communication that took me fifty years to learn.

  • Green Daniel

    Rita Dove.  What a beautiful person, inside and out.

  • Bill Martin

    Exactly my point.

    Stewardship of one’s little corner of the universe, cultivating a servant heart, . . . what more can one really do?

    That’s what this poem says to me. I do not believe the poet was complaining that she was confined to this task, or compelled to do it. “Must I sit and sew”  does not indicate that someone is standing over her with a whip. Far more profoundly, it reflects the impatience of someone who is eager to serve in a more challenging sphere. Yet, failure to be faithful in small things is no way to be called to greater things.

    . . . just like Lincoln chopping wood.

  • Anita Buffaloe

    Very educational – stirred my interest to buy the book

  • Jona in Clearwater

    While I normally enjoy your broadcast, and feel you represent a centrist position, your 2/17 “Moyers and Company” broadcast featuring Rita Dove was… how can I say this… patronizing.

    I know February is Black History Month (and when do we have German History, Italian, French, Scandinavian, or Irish history month?).

    But really, this whole Medal of Honor binge on which the Obama Whitehouse dines is just plain vulgar.   How can you compare a poet (who doesn’t even write in a spectrum of styles) a laureate?  And certainly, despite her hat trick in Medals, she doesn’t register on anyone’s radar beyond elitist PhDs and striving black payback score keepers.

    Mr. Moyer, I respectfully request that you do not try to pander to the flavor of the day, nor to a racist position of celebrating people on the basis of a skin color.  Any color.  We have a fabulous harpist who happens to be black, and it was a shame that her profile recently harped upon that (pun intended).  It’s wrong on both sides, judgement or aclaim.  It wasn’t kind or just for the KKK to take that position, nor is it for any black who goes on making others suffer through their opinions on the basis of what happened to their ancestors scores of years ago.  

  • Cheryl Harawitz

    Beautiful. Past lives leave their marks and influence us in ways we can see and understand and in ways beyond our comprehension. Witnessing a reading out loud and with another person helps us share in common, respect to those sleeping on the hill triggering compassion toward all of those around us, including ourselves. Very powerful. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    A poem is fluid and subject to the readers’ minds.
    Bill gets meaning Rita doesn’t and Rita hears things Bill denies.
    Over decades subsequent events and cultural evolution imbue fine old poems with new possibilities of meaning. Let’s say a poem discusses Lincoln chopping wood. “Chopping wood” is a rhythm and blues expression describing the driving rhythm within the melody. It made me think of Lincoln as playing the double bass, making events dance his beat. A poem can be good at several levels of comprehension. An old Zen  adage advises: Before Enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.
    After Enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. 

  • Anonymous

    Yours is an well-worn apology for cloaked racism.
    History denied bites you in the butt.If you dislike Dove use your remote.Bill Moyers has archived poetry by a variety of authors, for your enjoyment.

  • Lumariewalker

    Poetry is so good for the heart and soul.  So glad to watch and learn from this show.  It was uplifting – wish America appreciated this art form with more passion.

  • Shirley Showalter

    May I just say that the joy and wisdom on these two faces lit up the screen for me. As a result, I have a new appreciation for an old poem, “The Hill,” and I think of my own ancestors resting on the hill that overlooks Pennsylvania  land that was in my family for 150 years.

  • Seaglassadventures

    who is the poet who wrote “Incident”?