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Dove is an inspirational figure for African-Americans and for women.

Her poems explore hegemony and domination over black African-Americans or women by the White-Americans or men. Scrutinizing her works it can be said that she is against any injustice to any marginalized race, gender, age or class. Her poems can be viewed as anti-hegemonic activity in United States which was influenced by her experiences of oppression during the civil rights movement and childhood. However, the term hegemony and its presence in Rita Dove s poetry is discussed below focusing on some selected poems from the collections of poetry : Museum, The Yellow House on the Corner, Thomas And Beulah , Grace Notes, Lady Freedom Among Us, Selected Poems, etc. Hegemony was a concept previously used by Marxists such as Vladimir Ilyich Lelin to indicate the political leadership of the working-class in a democratic revolution, but developed by Gramsci into an acute analysis to explain why the inevitable socialist revolution predicted by orthodox Marxism had not occurred by the early 20th century. Capitalism, it seemed, was even more entrenched than ever. Capitalism Gramsci suggest, maintained control not just through violence and political and economic coercion, but also ideologically, through a hegemonic culture in which the values of bourgeoisie became the common sense values of all. The working class needed to develop a culture of its own, which would overthrow the notion that bourgeoisie values represent natural or normal values for society, and would attract the oppressed and intellectual classes to the cause of the proletariat. In short hegemony can be defined as follows:

Dominant groups in society, including fundamentally but not exclusively the ruling class, maintain their dominance by securing the spontaneous consent of subordinate groups, including the working class, through the negotiated construction of a political and ideological consensus which incorporates both dominant and dominated groups. (Satrinati, 1995: 165) Rita Dove, who served as poet laureate of the United States from 1993 until 1995, has been described as a quiet leader and as an artist who weaves African-American experience into the broader perspective of international culture. Dove's lyrical and accessible poetry reflects the author's interest in music and drama, as well as her commitment to social justice and her sensitivity to women's issues. As Dove explained in the Washington Post:"Obviously, as a black woman, I am concerned with race. . . . But certainly not every poem of mine mentions the fact of being black. They are poems about humanity, and sometimes humanity happens to be black. I cannot run from, I won't run from any kind of truth. From this speech it s clear that the oppression was against the blacks and her works are the voice against the oppression of women and blacks. During the civil rights era(1955-1968) the African-Americans were the victims of cultural, political, and ideological hegemony. Being an African-American woman she understood the need of establishment of new values and rights supporting blacks and women in United States Society from the humanist view point and not from the view point of the blacks or women. In her first collection of poetry The Yellow House on the Corner received praise for its sense of history combined with individual equal. Nearly all of Rita Dove s poetry deals with aspects of history. Shakespeare, Boccaccio, and Dove s grandparents are topics of her poetry. Dove puts a

light on the small truths of life that have more meaning than the actual historical facts. In a time when African-American poetry has been criticized for too much introspection, Rita Dove has taken an approach to emotion and the person as human. Dove s poetry is not about being black, but about being alive. Interestingly, Dove has made a decision to write in choice of colloquialisms rather than the Standard English preferred by white poets. And her voice against hegemony is most vividly expressed in the poems Used , Afield , Parsley , Wiring Home , Primer for Nuclear Age , History etc. the theme of hegemony is captured clearly and lucidly in the following lines:

The conspiracy's to make us thin. Size threes are all the rage,


. Our muscles say We have been used.

(Used 1-11)

The collections of the poetry of Rita Dove Museum , Thomas and Beulah , Grace Notes , are more or less deal with the theme of hegemony in common. Anti-father , Parsley , and Dusting in the book Museum shows hegemonic theme vividly. . The hegemonic motifs and themes of Rita Doves poetry are seen in the three poems above. Anti-Father is about Doves father and the slightly hegemonic theme of a daughter- father relationships (Conversation with

Rita Dove, par. 32). In Dusting, Rita Dove writes a girl in her adolescence thinking about a boy, and finding a deeper sense of hegemony (Cook, par. 2). The motif of hegemony is also continued when Dove writes, As a soldier falls at his feet amazed (47). A progression of hegemony is evidenced in Anti-Father and Parsley, as well as in the final poem, Dusting. Rita Doves poem Dusting, Exudes a sense of confinement, dependency, and denied aspirations. Dove illustrates this theme in the lines, That was years before/ Father gave her up (29-30). A motif of hegemony is shown by Dove when she writes, watched/ as the locket of ice/ dissolved and he/ swam free (34-38). This motif shows the man breaking free, as the cage of ice breaks and he is free, but the woman is still locked into her world, one with hegemony and subjugation of women. This show hegemonic theme and motif is common in all three poems.

Parsley is based on an actual event, where General Raphael Trujillo systematically exterminated Haitian workers (Steffen, par. 2). The event at the center of the poem Parsley is horrendous: the dictator orders 20000 blacks to be killed because they cant pronounce the letter R. The poem is divided in two parts, first part is of the victims and the latter is that of the man who gives the order to kill them. In the second part the thread of hegemony and domination continues in the lines:

to honor the birth of a son. He will

order many, this time, to be killed

for a single, beautiful word.

(Parsley 71-73).

Women are subservient to men in society through the benefit of values created by man dominated society not considering the equality of sexes. This cultural and ideological hegemony over women is mainly found in the poems Daystar, Lady Freedom Among Us, Exit, Hades Pitch, and Golden Oldie. In the poem Golden Oldie a young girl is looking for a space or freedom to breath freely because she is suffering from suffocation in the male oriented society. The lines given below reads the severe condition of women in society:

The words were easy, crooned by a young girl dying to feel alive, to discover a pain majestic enough to live by. I turned the air conditioning off,

(Golden Oldie 5-8)

In the poem Hade s Pitch sexual oppression over women by men is discussed. Women are victim from generation to generation by the domination and hegemony. This domination over ages is revealed more clearly in few lines of this poem:

She sighs just as her mother aboveground stumbles, is caught by the dredlock--bereft in an instant

(Hade s Pitch 16-18)

Dove also uses a sense of confinement and subjugation (Cook, par. 2). As both of her parents being African American, Dove did experience some racial bias in her youth (Jones, par. 2). This

racial bias is assumed from what was happening during her childhood, such as the civil rights movement. During Rita Doves life, many events occurred that had an effect on her poetry. The most prevalent of the many events that were occurring during Rita Doves youth was the civil rights era. And she advocates and suggests women in the poem Lady freedom Among Us to grasp their rights which they deserves as human. This poem hegemonizes the women to go through the way of freedom and never say no in the way to claim their deserved rights. She says: dont lower your eyes or stare straight ahead to where you think you ought to be going dont mutter oh no Rita Dove is an African-American woman but her works do not reflects the fact of being black or woman rather she raised her voice against the unjust hegemonic coercion and powerful domination over the helpless men or women from the view point of humanity. However, analyzing her works we can conclude saying that her works are the glossary of anti-hegemonic activities against the political, cultural and ideological hegemony of one race, gender, age, class against the opposite one. Her poetry is not restricted by notion of race or gender. Her poetic voice is the voice for humanity.