Critical Overview

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Critic Nelson Hathcock, writing Critical Survey of Poetry, says that while Dove “can exult in the freedom that imagination makes possible,” she also demonstrates in her poems that such imaginative liberty has its costs and dangers. He writes about “Geometry”: “Dove parallels the study of points, lines, and planes in space with the work of the poet. . . . Barriers and boundaries disappear in the imagination’s manipulation of them, but that manipulation has its methodology or aesthetic.” For example, in “Geometry,” the voice of the poem tells us: “I prove a theorem.” Critic Robert McDowell, writing in Callaloo about Yellow House on the Corner, praises Dove’s “storyteller’s instinct,” her “powerful images,” and “her determination to reveal what is magical in our contemporary lives.”

Well-known critic Helen Vendler, in a 1991 article in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, says that Dove “looks for a hard, angular surface to her poems,” and that “She is an expert in the disjunctive.” By this, Vendler means Dove is an expert in disunity or, or that she is very good at expressing an opposition between the meanings of words.

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Essays and Criticism