Rita Dove has written many different kinds of poetry. She also wrote books, short stories plays and all types of literature. This essay will focus on specifics of her writing by analyzing three pieces of poetry that Rita Dove has written. The works we will be looking at are In the Old Neighborhood, My Mother Enters the Work Force, and The Bistro Styx. Through these three works you will see examples of Rita Dove's use of home in her poetry, her use of figurative devices such as similes and metaphors, and you will see Dove's view on children coming of age in different ways.
By looking at the poem "In the Old Neighborhood” we can deduce a number of things from the overall poem. Dove seems to go back in time to view her home as a child from a newly shifting and surreal location. The speakers in Dove's poems are not usually at ease with their surroundings, and they tend to look upon scenes of home as seen through a distant and dispassionate eye. Dove's home seems alien to her. Even the flowers are strangers there. Analyzing the poem farther we can see that Dove uses her views on home to further alienate from our familiar picture of that typical suburban home. She seems to be talking about the house in a manner that would indicate it is a photographic negative; this emphasizes race as an alienating factor. Dove's writing usually charts a sense of displacement and this seems to be the case in "The Old Neighborhood”. In My Mother Enters the Work Force Dove does not use her home theme, but in The Bistro Styx, which is a small excerpt from a works entitled Mother Love, Dove does make references to home. This poem is a recasting of the story of Demeter and Persephone from ancient Greek mythology. In short, Hades kidnaps Persephone from her home, and Demeter, her mother goes insane trying to get her back. Demeter is able to go after Persephone only to find that too late Persephone has already "adapted” to life in the underworld, and must remain there because she ate the fruit of the dead.