Rita Dove: Biography
Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952, and earned a B.A. at Miami University of Ohio, and an M.F.A. at the University of Iowa. She also attended the Universität Tübingen in West Germany.
In 1993, Dove was appointed poet laureate of the United States and consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress, making her the youngest person -- and the first African American -- to receive this highest official honor in American letters. She held the position for two years, and was reappointed special consultant in poetry for 1999-2000. Dove has also been a Presidential Scholar, Fulbright/Hays Fellow. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa and has received twenty honorary doctorates.
Besides the Pulitzer Prize-winning (1997) Thomas and Beulah, her poetry collections include The Yellow House on the Corner, Museum, Grace Notes, Mother and On the Bus with Rosa Parks. She has also written a novel, Through the Ivory Gate; a collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday; and a verse drama The Darker Face of the Earth. Her laureate lectures are collected in The Poet's World.
Among numerous other honors, Dove has received "Literary Lion" citations from the New York Public Library, the NAACP Great American Artist Award, a National Humanities Medal from the White House, the Heinz Award in the Humanities, the Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, and the Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award in the Literary Arts.
Her play The Darker Face of the Earth has been performed at numerous regional theaters in the United States and at the Royal National Theatre in London. Her song cycle Seven for Luck, with music by John Williams, premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1998. The following year she collaborated with John Williams and Steven Spielberg on "America's Millennium." She has been featured on CNN, the Today Show, Bill Moyer's Journal, the Charlie Rose Show, Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, Sesame Street, and many other national programs.
Dove holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she lives with her husband and writer Fred Viebahn, and their daughter, Aviva.
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