Rita Dove's Sonata Mulattica brings the whirlwind life of 18th century biracial violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower to modern audiences. Fans of her work will be able to hear Dove read from her poem at, "History's Crevices: Sonata Mulattica's Forgotten Prodigy" at the University of Miami this Thursday.
Dove, a former US Poet Laureate and the recipient of both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts, is one of America's most prominent poets. Her wide-ranging work, marked by precise language and and complex emotions, often defies categorization. "She has...influenced the way we think about the history of American poetry by choosing the most significant poems of the last century in her Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-century American Poetry," said Mihoko Suzuki, the director of the Center for the Humanities and a professor of English.
Suzuki said that Sonata Mulattica has been highlighted because of the creative and invigorating way Dove relates the story of Bridgetower and his career. "Professor Dove's Sonata Mulattica is a compelling, imaginative retelling of an episode in the history of music surrounding Haydn and Beethoven, bringing to life [Bridgetower], a forgotten mixed-race virtuoso," she wrote. "Professor Dove's narrative is populated by many lively characters, that ranges from London to Vienna to Paris, and vividly captures the concrete materiality of the historical period's culture. An accomplished cellist herself, she successfully conveys the visceral effect of music on its composers, performers, and audience."
With Dove's profound mixture of poetry, history, music and racial context, there's something in Sonata Mulattica for everyone. "We hope this event will encourage our wide-ranging audience," Suzuki said. "From high school students to UM students and faculty as well as the general public in South Florida, to reflect upon the complex relationship between history and literature, as well as the importance of poetry as a vibrant creative form in twenty-first century America."
"History's Crevices: Sonata Mulattica's Forgotten Prodigy" will take place February 5 at the University of Miami's Storer Auditorium (5250 University Dr., Coral Gables). The event is free and open to the public. To register for the event, visit humanities.miami.edu.
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