Rita Dove

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar, she attended Miami University of Ohio, Universität Tübingen in Germany and the University of Iowa. In 1987 she received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and from 1993-1995 she served as U.S. Poet Laureate. Author of a novel, a short story collection, a book of essays, and ten volumes of poetry — most recently Sonata Mulattica, her poetic treatise of 19th century Afro-European violin prodigy George Bridgetower (winner of the 2010 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award) and Collected Poems 1974-2004 (winner of a 2017 NAACP Image Award) — she also edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011) and, in 2018/19, a weekly poetry column for The New York Times Magazine. Her song cycle Seven for Luck, with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony, and her play The Darker Face of the Earth had successful runs at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Royal National Theatre in London, among other venues. Rita Dove’s next volume of poems, Playlist for the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton in the summer of 2021, and a new song cycle, Standing Witness, with music by Richard Danielpour, will premiere at Tanglewood and the Kennedy Center in 2021 as well.

Rita Dove’s numerous honors include the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, Lifetime Achievement Medals from the Library of Virginia and the Fulbright Commission, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets as well as 28 honorary doctorates, among them from Yale and Harvard. In 1996 she received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and in 2011 the National Medal of Arts from President Obama — the only poet ever to receive both medals. She has served as president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and as chancellor of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa. An elected member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, where she has been teaching since 1989. 

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