Discuss the lecture

Rita Dove’s lecture on her book Sonata Mulaticca Rita Dove is one of those modern American poets who have made a mark forthemselves and have been noticed and acclaimed for their works. Being the first black U.S poet laureate and a poet who lays great emphasis on narratives that are silenced or lost, she has done an impressive job writing Sonata Mulattica. This is a collection of poems to celebrate what had been forgotten and lost. She tells what she calls a ‘very unlikely story’ of George Bridgetower and his interaction with the great maestro Beethoven in Sonata Mulattica. In this lecture delivered at the University of Miami, she talks about the book, reads some poems and tells her story of the events that led her to write this book. She also discusses what challenges she had to face while writing the poems and researching for the book.
The lecture is more of a personal story of how Rita Dove’s inspiration and journey that ended up in the form of this book. She tells it very much like a personal story of intrigue and research to find out about Bridgetower. She sprinkles her lecture with light humor every now and then to save the listeners from monotony and reads out from her book to help us actually see how her research on Bridgetower was employed to weave poems.
Being a black American wed to a white man, and having a child she can totally relate to Bridegtower’s story. Being the son of an African prince and a Polish mother, Bridegtower was ‘different’ as Rita Dove calls it, his father helps him ‘exploiting the difference’ and that is explained by Rita Dove when she reads out ‘The wardrobe’. Similarly we notice that Dove virtually goes back in time and gets into Bridgestone’s shoes to explore what it felt like being him back then. The way Rita Dove tells the story of her research and inspiration behind the book, and then when we listen to those recitations of poems from Sonata Mulattica, we can easily see how she went into every small detail for writing her poems. Like she tells how Thomas Jefferson was there in one of Bridgetower’s concerts. And then the way she tells how being black or mixed or ‘different’ was treated differently back then if compared with today’s world. She calls this story ‘More than a story’ and her treatment of it proves that she has indeed turned it into more than a story, breathing life into it.
Rita Dove loves playing music and her interest in music and classic compositions takes her at a totally different level to be able to understand and appreciate Bridgetower’s lost talent. She celebrates it and tries to give him another life after his death. Dove says that ‘nobody remembers, nobody knows’ him and so she attempts to make him known again.
While telling about the book and different poems in this lecture, Rita Dove systematically tells us the main story, then how she gave it a voice and how she explored the various aspects of the story behind the poem. Then afterwards when she reads the poems we see those events from Bridgetower’s story coming to life. We, as listeners can actually hear the wheels of carts moving in Paris and we can actually feel the breeze touching us when George Bridgetower’s father stood with him, about to enter England and told him about wardrobe in ‘The Wardrobe lesson’.
A product of good research, great motivation and creative imagination the book is complete in itself. Rita Dove while giving us more than just a ‘footnote’ on the poem in this lecture, tells us more about two ‘stories’. The actual story of George Bridgetower and Beethoven, and the story of her inspiration and clues which helped her in molding the first story into poems.
In conclusion, the lecture explains Dove’s motivation to write a book to celebrate a lost genius who was ‘different’ but forgotten, unlike Beethoven who celebrated him. So just like Beethoven who composed a sonata to celebrate Bridgetower, Rita Dove writes a book to celebrate the forgotten genius. Her poems and her story behind these poems in this lecture can help us see how Dove transformed inspiration into celebration.