Dove submitted “Bellringer” to poetry editor Kevin Young for consideration alongside several other poems, but she wasn’t sure the New Yorker would want to publish it. “It is kind of a long poem and it’s a very specific poem,” said Dove, who has published in this magazine several times over more than 20 years. “I hoped it would make sense to those who don’t know UVA, so I was really happy he wanted to publish that one.”
The poem had its own timeline, Dove said recently. She had been gathering material, and had already started to work on the poem when the University’s Bicentennial Commission invited her to participate.
“That was almost a year ahead, I think,” she said. “The poem was still in bits and pieces. By the time I had a meeting with Mitch Levine, the creative director of Bicentennial Launch Celebration, I was thrilled the poem was done.
“But I had no idea it would be [done]. I thought, ‘This is the moment the poem was waiting for, and I was waiting for.’”
She mentioned the “strange and marvelous coincidence of death and birth” – Martin was born at Monticello on the same day Thomas Jefferson died there, July 4, 1826.