|Born||Rita Frances Dove|
August 28, 1952
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Miami University|
University of Tübingen
University of Iowa
|Notable works||Thomas and Beulah|
The Darker Face of the Earth
Playlist for the Apocalypse
|Notable awards||Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1987)|
United States Poet Laureate (1993–95)
Poet Laureate of Virginia (2004–06)
1996 National Humanities Medal
2011 National Medal of Arts
2019 Wallace Stevens Award
2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal
2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize 2022 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry
Rita Frances Dove (born August 28, 1952) is an American poet and essayist. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first African American to have been appointed since the position was created by an act of Congress in 1986 from the previous "consultant in poetry" position (1937–86). Dove also received an appointment as "special consultant in poetry" for the Library of Congress's bicentennial year from 1999 to 2000. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1987, and she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. Since 1989, she has been teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she held the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English from 1993 to 2020; as of 2020 she holds the chair of Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing.
Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, to Ray Dove, one of the first African-American chemists to work in the U.S. tire industry (as a research chemist at Goodyear), and Elvira Hord, who achieved honors in high school and would share her passion for reading with her daughter. In 1970, Dove graduated from Buchtel High School as a Presidential Scholar. Later, Dove graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Miami University in 1973. From 1974 to 1975 she held a Fulbright Scholarship from University of Tübingen, Germany. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1977.
|C-SPAN Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, 15:43, C-SPAN|
Dove taught creative writing at Arizona State University from 1981 to 1989. She received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In May 1993 she was named United States Poet Laureate by the Librarian of Congress, an office she held until 1995. At the age of 40, Dove was the youngest person in the position and the first African American since the title was changed to Poet Laureate (Robert Hayden had served as the first non-white Consultant in Poetry from 1976 to 1978, and Gwendolyn Brooks had been the last Consultant in Poetry in 1985–86). Early in her tenure as poet laureate, Dove was featured by Bill Moyers in a one-hour interview on his PBS prime-time program Bill Moyers Journal. Since 1989, she has been teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she held the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English from 1993-2020 and is now the Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing.
Rita Dove also served as a Special Bicentennial Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1999/2000, along with Louise Glück and W. S. Merwin. In 2004, then-governor Mark Warner of Virginia appointed her to a two-year position as Poet Laureate of Virginia. In her public posts, Dove concentrated on spreading the word about poetry and increasing public awareness of the benefits of literature. As United States Poet Laureate, for example, she brought together writers to explore the African diaspora through the eyes of its artists.
Dove was on the board of the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) (now "Association of Writers and Writing Programs") from 1985 to 1988, leading the organization as its president from 1986 to 1987. From 1994 to 2000, she was a senator (member of the governing board) of the national academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa. From 2006 to 2012 she served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Since 1991, she has been on the jury of the annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards—from 1991 to 1996 together with Ashley Montagu and Henry Louis Gates; and since 1997 with Gates, Joyce Carol Oates, Simon Schama, Stephen Jay Gould (until his death in 2002) and Steven Pinker (who replaced Gould in 2002).
In 2000 and 2001 Dove wrote a weekly column, "Poet's Choice", for The Washington Post. In the spring of 2018, Dove was named poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine. After writing nearly fifty columns in which she championed new American poetry, she resigned from the position in August 2019.
Dove's work cannot be confined to a specific era or school in contemporary literature; her wide-ranging topics and the precise poetic language with which she captures complex emotions defy easy categorization. Her most famous work to date is Thomas and Beulah, published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press in 1986, a collection of poems loosely based on the lives of her maternal grandparents, for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. Dove has published eleven volumes of poetry, a book of short stories (Fifth Sunday, 1985), a collection of essays (The Poet's World, 1995), and a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992). Her Collected Poems 1974–2004 was released by W. W. Norton in 2016; it carries an excerpt from President Barack Obama's 2011 National Medal of Arts commendation on its back cover.
In 1994, she published the play The Darker Face of the Earth (revised stage version 1996), which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon in 1996 (first European production: Royal National Theatre, London, 1999). She collaborated with composer John Williams on the song cycle Seven for Luck (first performance: Boston Symphony, Tanglewood, 1998, conducted by the composer). For "America's Millennium", the White House's 1999/2000 New Year's celebration, Ms. Dove contributed — in a live reading at the Lincoln Memorial, accompanied by John Williams' music — a poem to Steven Spielberg's documentary The Unfinished Journey. She also provided the texts for Pulitzer Prize winner Tania Leon's musical works "Singin' Sepia" (1996), "Reflections" (2006)  and "The Crossing Choir" (forthcoming), among other collaborations with multiple composers, most recently on "A Standing Witness" with Richard Danielpour .
Dove's most ambitious collection of poetry to date, Sonata Mulattica, was published in 2009; it received the 2010 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Over its more than 200 pages, it "has the sweep and vivid characters of a novel", as Mark Doty wrote in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Dove's 11th collection of poetry, Playlist for the Apocalypse, was published by W. W. Norton in August 2021. New York Times critic Dwight Garner called it "among her best", "poems that are by turns delicate, witty and audacious."
Dove edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry, published in 2011. The collection provoked heated controversy as some critics complained that she valued an inclusive, populist agenda over quality. Poet John Olson commented that "her exclusions are breathtaking". Well-known poets left out include Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Sterling Brown, Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff and Lorine Niedecker.
As Dove explained in her foreword and in media interviews, she had originally selected works by Plath, Ginsberg and Brown but these as well as some other poets were omitted against her editorial wishes; their contributions had to be removed from print-ready copy at the very last minute because their publisher forbade their inclusion due to a disagreement with Penguin over permission fees. Critic Helen Vendler condemned Dove's choices, asking "why are we being asked to sample so many poets of little or no lasting value?" Dove defended her editorial work vigorously in her response to Vendler in The New York Review of Books, as well as in wide-ranging interviews with The Writer's Chronicle, with poet Jericho Brown on the Best American Poetry website, and with Bill Moyers on his public television show Moyers & Company. The Boston Review continued the discussion from different angles with an aggressive attack by scholar Marjorie Perloff and a spirited counter-attack by poet and scholar Evie Shockley, who took on both Vendler and Perloff.
The annual "Rita Dove Poetry Award" was established by Salem College Center for Women Writers in 2004. The documentary film Rita Dove: An American Poet by Eduardo Montes-Bradley premiered at the Paramount Theater on January 31, 2014.
In 2019, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth, Dove put the African-American poetic reception of Whitman into perspective at a poetry festival in Bogotá, Colombia, during a round-table session with Robert Pinsky.
Awards and honors
Besides her Pulitzer Prize, Rita Dove has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them 29 honorary doctorates - most recently, in 2018, from Harvard University, Smith College and The University of Michigan, and in 2022 from her graduate alma mater, The University of Iowa -- as well as, in 2014, from Yale University and, in 2013, from Emerson College and Emory University). In 2016, she was the commencement speaker at The University of Virginia, which traditionally does not bestow honorary degrees. Among the other institutions of higher learning that granted her honorary doctorates are Miami University of Ohio, Knox College, Tuskegee University, University of Miami (Florida), Washington University, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Akron, Arizona State University, Boston College, Dartmouth College, Spelman College, The University of Pennsylvania, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, Northeastern University, Columbia University, SUNY Brockport, Washington & Lee University, Howard University, the Pratt Institute, Skidmore College and Duke University.
Rita Dove received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1994, the National Humanities Medal / Charles Frankel Prize from President Bill Clinton in 1996, the 3rd Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities in 1997, and more recently, the 2006 Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service in Literature, the 2007 Chubb Fellowship at Yale University, the 2008 Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2009 Premio Capri and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. In 2014, she was honored with the Carole Weinstein Prize in poetry and in 2015, as the first American, with the Poetry and People Prize in Guangdong, China. In 2016, she received the Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement from Oregon State University. Collected Poems 1974–2004, released in 2016, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the winner of the NAACP Image Award in poetry and winner of the 2017 Library of Virginia Poetry Award. Also in 2017 she received the Callaloo Lifetime Achievement Award, followed in 2018 by The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement and in 2019 by the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the North Star Award (the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for lifetime achievement)[circular reference], the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University and the Langston Hughes Medal from City College of New York.
In 2021 Rita Dove received the Gold Medal in poetry  from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Academy's highest honor, as the 16th poet (and only the 3rd female and 1st African-American) in the medals' 110 year history. The other fifteen poets who have received the medal since 1911 were James Whitcomb Riley, Edward Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, Conrad Aiken, William Carlos Williams, W.H. Auden, John Crowe Ransom, Archibald MacLeish, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wilbur, John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand and Louise Glück.
In 2022 an official portrait of Rita Dove by photographer Sanjay Suchak, commissioned by the University of Virginia, was unveiled and is prominently displayed in the front room of the university's historic Pavilion VII (Colonnade Club) on the West Lawn. Also in 2022, she won the Library of Virginia Poetry Award for Playlist for the Apocalypse  and received two more lifetime achievement recognitions: a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation  and the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. 
Rita Dove is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fellowship of Southern Writers and PEN American Center. She was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1991, and in 2018 she was named one of the Library of Virginia's Virginia Women in History.
Dove married Fred Viebahn, a German-born writer, in 1979; they first met in the summer of 1976 when she was a graduate student in the Iowa Writers Workshop and he spent a semester as a Fulbright fellow in the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. They lived in Oberlin, Ohio from 1977 to 1979 while Viebahn taught in the Oberlin College German department, and spent extended periods of time in Germany, Ireland and Israel, before moving to Arizona in 1981. Their daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn, was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1983. The couple are avid ballroom dancers, and have participated in a number of showcase performances. Dove and her husband live in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Playlist for the Apocalypse (New York: W. W. Norton, 2021), ISBN 978-0-393-86777-0
- Collected Poems 1974-2004 (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2016), ISBN 978-0-393-28594-9
- Sonata Mulattica (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009), ISBN 978-0-393-07008-8
- American Smooth (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), ISBN 978-0-393-05987-8
- On the Bus with Rosa Parks (New York: Norton, 1999), ISBN 978-0-393-04722-6
- Mother Love (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995), ISBN 978-0-393-31444-1
- Selected Poems (Pantheon/Vintage, 1993), ISBN 978-0-679-75080-2
- Grace Notes (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989), ISBN 978-0-393-02719-8
- Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie Mellon Press, 1986), ISBN 978-0-88748-021-8
- Museum (Carnegie Mellon, 1983)
- The Yellow House on the Corner (Carnegie Mellon Press, 1980)
- The Poet's World (Washington, DC: The Library of Congress, 1995)
- The Darker Face of the Earth: A Verse Play in Fourteen Scenes (Story Line Press, 1994)
Short story collections
- The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (New York: Penguin Books, 2011), ISBN 978-0-14-310643-2
- The Best American Poetry 2000 (New York: Scribner, 2000), ISBN 978-0-7432-0033-2
- Ingersoll, Earl G., ed. Conversations with Rita Dove. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003
- Steffen, Therese. Crossing Color: Transcultural Space and Place in Rita Dove's Poetry, Fiction, and Drama. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
- Pereira, Malin. Rita Dove's Cosmopolitanism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.
- Righelato, Pat. Understanding Rita Dove. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2006.
Chapters in books (selection)
- Erickson, Peter. "Rita Dove's Shakespeares." In Marianne Novy (ed.), Transforming Shakespeare. New York: St. Martin's, 1999.
- Harrington, Walt, "The Shape of Her Dreaming: Rita Dove Writes a Poem." In Intimate Journalism. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1997
- Keller, Lynn. "Sequences Testifying for 'Nobodies': Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah and Brenda Marie Osbey's Desperate Circumstance, Dangerous Woman." In Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
- McDowell, Robert. "The Assembling Vision of Rita Dove." In James McCorkle (ed.), Conversant Essays: Contemporary Poets on Poetry. Detroit: Wayne State University, 1990.
- Meitner, Erika. "On Rita Dove." In Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker (eds), Women Poets on Mentorship. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008
- Shoptaw, John. "Segregated Lives: Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah." In Henry Louis Gates, Jr (ed.), Reading Black, Reading Feminist. London: Penguin, 1990
- Galgano, Andrea. "Rita Dove. La grazia esatta" in Frontiera di Pagine II, pp. 723–734. Roma: Aracne, 2017
- "Rita Dove". Poetry Foundation. March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Virginia - State Poet Laureate (State Poets Laureate of the United States, Main Reading Room, Library of Congress)". www.loc.gov. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Rita Dove | Creative Writing Program".
- Rita Dove (2008). "Comprehensive Biography of Rita Dove". University of Virginia. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
- "Rita Dove Biography and Interview". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- "Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove". C-SPAN. March 21, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Library of Congress Online resources, with links to works, commentary and recorded works.
- "Poet Laureate Rita Dove - BillMoyers.com". Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Department of English".
- "Frequently Asked Questions: United States Poets Laureate - Library of Congress Bibliographies, Research Guides, and Finding Aids (Virtual Programs&Services, Library of Congress)". www.loc.gov. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards - The 82nd Annual". Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- [dead link]
- "Today on page 12 of Book World ..." The Washington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
- Fitzgerald, Brendan (May 25, 2018), "NYT Magazine’s Rita Dove on What Poetry Might Grant Unsuspecting News Readers", Columbia Journalism Review (CJR.org). Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- on YouTube
- May, Lori A. (July 11, 2013). "Poets' Quarterly: Sonata Mulattica: Rita Dove's Juggling Act". Poetsquarterly.com. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- Mark Doty, "The Silenced Violin", O, The Oprah Magazine, April 2009.
- "Playlist for the Apocalypse".
- Garner, Dwight (August 9, 2021). "In 'Playlist for the Apocalypse,' the Weight of American History and of Mortality". The New York Times.
- Brown, Jeffrey (December 16, 2011). "In Anthology, Rita Dove Connects American Poets' Intergenerational Conversations". PBS NewsHour. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Brooks, Mary Jo (December 16, 2011). "Friday on the NewsHour: Rita Dove". MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Poetry anthology sparks race row", The Guardian, December 22, 2011.
- Vendler, Helen (November 24, 2011). "Are These the Poems to Remember?". The New York Review of Books.
- Dove, Rita (December 22, 2011). "Defending An Anthology". The New York Review of Books.
- "Editing the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry: An Interview with Rita Dove" (PDF). The Writer's Chronicle. December 2011.
- "Until the Fulcrum Tips: A Conversation with Rita Dove and Jericho Brown".
- "Rita Dove on the Power of Poetry". Moyers. February 17, 2012.
- "Poetry on the Brink". Boston Review. May 18, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "Shifting the (Im)balance". Boston Review. June 6, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- David A. Maurer, "New documentary about Rita Dove explores music, family and other forces that shaped a poet". The Daily Progress. January 31, 2014.
- Lawrence A. Garretson, "Rita Dove talks about a new film on her life and work", C-Ville, January 29, 2014.
- "Rita Dove on Walt Whitman (Sept. 2019)". Youtube video".
- Mitchell, Stephanie (May 24, 2018). "Seven Receive Honorary Degrees." News.Harvard.edu. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- "'Hold On To Your Dreams with Dignity': Poet Rita Dove Tells Smith Graduates" (May 20, 2018) Smith.edu. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- Rosenfeld, Benjamin (December 16, 2018), "Winter commencement speakers emphasize adaptability, paying it forward", The Michigan Daily.
- "A master of poetry comes home".
- "Yale awards 12 honorary degrees at 2014 graduation". May 19, 2014. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
- "Rita Dove to Grads: 'Instead of Advice, I Will Give You Wishes'". Time. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- "People", Department of English, University of Virginia.
- "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- "2019 Summit Highlights Photo". 2019.
Rita Dove, former United States Poet Laureate, presenting the Golden Plate Award to Nadia Murad, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, during the Banquet of the Golden Plate Award gala at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City.
- on YouTube
- "The Heinz Awards :: Rita Dove". www.heinzawards.net. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Past Fellows - Yale Chubb Fellowship". chubbfellowship.org. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- ""U.Va.'s Rita Dove to Receive Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award Oct. 18", UVa Today". Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Fulbright.org". Fulbright.org. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "2009 - Rita Dove". premiocapri.com. Premio Capri – Capri Awards. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "MONDAY: President Obama to Award 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal". The White House. February 10, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals announced", Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2012.
- on YouTube. The Obama White House, February 13, 2012.
- "Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize". www.weinsteinpoetryprize.org. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Poet Rita Dove named OSU's 2016 Stone Award winner", Oregon State University Press Release, August 13, 2015.
- "2016 National Book Awards". www.nationalbook.org. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
- Treadway, Sandra Gioia, "Dove, Shetterly, Brown, and Baldacci Receive Literary Awards: 2017 recipients honored at the Library of Virginia", Library of Virginia.
- "Rita Dove receives the Callaloo Lifetime Achievement Award". YouTube.
- "Rita Dove".
- "Rita Dove Honored with 2019 Wallace Stevens Award by Harriet Staff". May 25, 2021.
- Hurston-Wright Legacy Award#North Star Award
- "Merit Awards".
- "Queen Latifah, Rita Dove, and Robert Smith Receive Annual W. E. B. Du Bois Medal | News | the Harvard Crimson".
- "Pulitzer Prize poet Rita Dove wins CCNY's Langston Hughes Medal".
- "Yehudi Wyner, Rita Dove, and Phong Bui Receive Highest Honors – American Academy of Arts and Letters".
- "UVA Adds Dove Portrait and Bus Stop Marker to Honor Recent History". April 15, 2022.
- "Poetry Foundation Makes History Honoring 2022 Pegasus Awardees". September 8, 2022.
- "Library of Congress Awards Bobbitt Poetry Prizes to Rita Dove and Heid e. Erdrich".
- "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
- "ODJFS Online - SEARCH the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame". www.odjfs.state.oh.us. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Virginia Women in History 2018 Rita Dove". www.lva.virginia.gov. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "Fred Viebahn".
- "Rita Dove | Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing".
- "Aviva Dove-Viebahn | iSearch".
- Forsicht, "Rita and Fred dancing", YouTube.
- "Rita Dove".
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- The Rita Dove Homepage at University of Virginia, with resource listing of video, articles etc. Retrieved November 2, 2010
- Audio: Rita Dove at the Key West Literary Seminar, 2010: "How Does a Shadow Shine?" Retrieved November 2, 2010
- Poems by Rita Dove and biography at PoetryFoundation.org. Retrieved November 2, 2010
- Interview: Rita Dove at the Academy of American Poets. Poems, audio, interviews. Retrieved November 2, 2010
- Rita Dove, "The Bridgetower" (poem), The New Yorker, November 24, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2010
- Essays, poems, interview about Dove at Modern American Poetry, University of Illinois. Retrieved November 2, 2010
- "Rita Dove on the Future of Literature", The Smithsonian, August 2010
- "Rita Dove: A Selective Bibliography", Project Muse. Retrieved December 1, 2015
- Women of Color, Women of Words biography, Rutgers University. Retrieved April 4, 2018
- Extended Interview: Rita Dove. Interviewed by Jeffrey Brown on PBS Newshour, December 2011, on the topic of 20th-century American poetry, as collected in The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Retrieved February 11, 2017