On August 28, 1952, Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio. Her nine books of poetry have won some of the nation’s most prestigious awards; "On the Bus with Rosa Parks" was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, while Thomas and Beulah won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
In addition to poetry, Dove has published a book of short stories, a novel, a volume of essays, and the verse drama "The Darker Face of the Earth," which was produced at the Oregon Shakespeare festival in Ashland in 1996. She also edited "The Best American Poetry 2000" and "The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry."
Dove’s work traverses a wide range of landscapes, applying an unflinching eye upon historical and political events. In American Smooth, she reflects on her experiences with ballroom dancing. “For Dove, dance is an implicit parallel to poetry," said Emily Nussbaum in The New York Times review of the collection. “Each is an expression of grace performed within limits; each an art weighted by history but malleable enough to form something utterly new.” Her latest work, "Sonata Mulattica," is a poetic treatise on the life of nineteenth-century, biracial violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower and his friendship with Ludwig van Beethoven.
Dove served as poet laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995, and as poet laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. Among her many honors are the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2006 Common Wealth Award, the 2008 Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2009 International Capri Award, and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, as well as twenty-five honorary doctorates, the most recent of which she received from Yale University in 2014.
She is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. President Bill Clinton bestowed upon her the 1996 National Humanities Medal, and President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of the Arts. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2005 to 2011.
Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, where she has been teaching since 1989.
Sonata Mulattica (W. W. Norton, 2009)
American Smooth (W. W. Norton, 2004)
On the Bus with Rosa Parks (W. W. Norton, 1999)
Mother Love (W. W. Norton, 1995)
Selected Poems (Pantheon, 1993)
Grace Notes (W. W. Norton, 1989)
Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1986)
Museum (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1983)
The Yellow House on the Corner (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1980)