A Brief Biography
Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry (video) and, more recently, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1997 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the 1996 National Humanities Medal (video) from President Clinton. In 2006 she received the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service (award details, press release, newspaper coverage and photos), in 2007 she became a Chubb Fellow at Yale University, in 2008 she was honored with the Library of Virginia's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2009 she received the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the Premio Capri, followed by the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in 2010, the Furious Flower Lifetime Achievement Award and the Carole Weinstein Prize in 2014, the 2015 Poetry and People International Prize in Guangdong, China, the 2016 Stone Award for Lifetime Achievement, the 2017 Harold Washington Literary Award and, also in 2017, the inaugural U.S. Presidential Scholars Award from the Presidential Scholars Foundation (which she received together with fellow 1970 presidential and national merit scholar Merrick Garland). President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of Arts (White House video-excerpt, White House video-full ceremony, personal slide show), which made her the only poet with both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts to her credit. To date, 27 honorary doctorates have been bestowed upon Rita Dove, most recently -- in 2018—by Harvard University and by Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ms. Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar as one of the hundred top American high school graduates that year, she received her B.A. summa cum laude from Miami University of Ohio in 1973 and her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1977. In 1974/75 she held a Fulbright scholarship at the Universität Tübingen in Germany. She has published the poetry collections The Yellow House on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Selected Poems (1993), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), and Sonata Mulattica (2009; winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award), a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985), the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992), essays under the title The Poet's World (1995), and the play The Darker Face of the Earth, which had its world premiere in 1996 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London, and in many other venues. Seven for Luck, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1998. 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's music — a poem to Steven Spielberg's documentary The Unfinished Journey (video). She is the editor of The Best American Poetry 2000 and he Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011), and from January 2000 to January 2002 she wrote a weekly column, "Poet's Choice," for The Washington Post. Her latest book, Collected Poems 1974-2004, was released by W.W. Norton & Co. in May 2016; it was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the NAACP Image Award in Poetry. From June 2018 – May 2019, she serves as poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine’s weekly poetry feature.
A member of PEN America, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rita Dove holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she lives with her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn. They have a grown daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn.
a Click Here for Rita Dove's Comprehensive Biography
a Click Here for Rita Dove's official University of Virginia Home Page
a Click Here for Photographs of Rita Dove
a Click Here to link directly to a number of videos on YouTube
a Click Here to link directly to The Rumpus review (2016).
a Click Here to link directly to The New York Times review (2016).
a Click Here to link directly to an interview on the Diane Rehm Show (2016).
a Click Here to link directly to The Los Angeles Times review (2016).
a Click Here to link directly to The Washington Post review (2016).
a Click Here to link directly to an interview in the Georgia Review (spring 2016).
a Click Here to link directly to an interview in the Virginia Quarterly Review (winter 2016).
a Click Here for "Moyers & Company" – Bill Moyers interviews Rita Dove, American Public Television, February 2012.
a Click Here for “Poet Laureate Rita Dove” – Bill Moyers interview, PBS, 1994.
a Click Here for “Rita Dove: National Medal of Arts Recipient” – NEA podcast interview, February 2012.
a Click Here for “Rita Dove on the Leonard Lopate Show" – NPR interview, Dec. 2011.
a Click Here for “In Anthology, Rita Dove connects...” - PBS Newshour, Dec. 2011.
a Click Here for “Fridays on the Newshour: Rita Dove” – additional web only material to PBS Newshour program above, Dec. 2011.
a Click Here for “Until the Fulcrum Tips” – an excellent and thorough online interview by Jericho Brown.
a Click Here for "Editing The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry:" - Rita Dove’s Writers Chronicle interview, Dec. 2011.
a Click Here for Rita Dove’s 2011 reading at the White House, with President Obama’s introduction, May 2011.
a Click Here for White House Poetry Workshop, with Rita Dove and Billy Collins, intro by Michelle Obama, moderated by Elizabeth Alexander, May 2011.
a Click Here for a review of Sonata Mulattica in Opera News, June 2010.
a Click Here for a radio interview on KUOW-Seattle (mp3) (KUOW website), May 13, 2010.
a Click Here for a review of Sonata Mulattica in The New York Times, April 2, 2009.
a Click Here for "How Does A Shadow Shine?", a reading from the Key West Literary Seminar (audio only), January 2010.
a Click Here for a comprehensive essay on Sonata Mulattica in Poets' Quarterly, July 11, 2013.
a Click Here for media reactions to American Smooth (one of the New York Times' 100 notable books of the year 2004).
a Click Here for an interview with Rita Dove by Robert McDowell, with some of her poems about dancing in the fall 2003 issue of American Poet (PDF file, 1.72 MB).
a Click Here for an interview with Rita Dove by Elizabeth Alexander in the Oct./Nov. 2005 issue of Writer's Chonicle, the magazine of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (PDF file, 3.7 Mb)
a Click Here for an interview with Rita Dove by Camille Dungy in Callaloo, Vol. 28, No. 4 (2005) (PDF file, 430 Kb)
a Click Here for an article in the Hong Kong magazine The Peninsula, spring 2007 (PDF, 3.2 Mb)
a Click Here for Rita Dove reading her poem “American Smooth” at the Dodge Poetry Festival. The video is introduced by Garrison Keillor.
a Click Here for the musical performance of "Claudette Colvin" (from On the Bus with Rosa Parks) by John McCutcheon and band, with a special guest appearance by Rita Dove, at the Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, Virginia, March 26, 2006. Music by John McCutcheon. This song is also available on John McCutcheon's CD Mightier Than the Sword. (Windows Media File, 3.8 Mb. All rights reserved.)
a Click Here for videos of Rita dancing various ballroom dances.
a Click Here for the video file of the poem read at the Clinton Presidential Center Dedication on Nov. 18, 2004. (Windows Media Video, 4.3 Mb)
a Click Here to link directly to a number of videos on YouTube
a Click Here for Rita Dove's page on The Poetry Archive, where you will find recordings of 5 poems.
a Click Here for the audio file of the poem read at the Clinton Presidential Center Dedication on Nov. 18, 2004. (Windows Media Audio, 130 Kb)
a Click Here to hear Rita Dove read her poems "The First Book" and "Count to Ten and We'll Be There". (mp3, approximately 700 Kb)
a Click Here for a musical rendition of Rita Dove's poem "Testimonial" by Singapore composer and singer Vanessa Fernandez. (All rights reserved.)
a Click Here for Rita Dove's page on The Poetry Archive, where you will find the text of 5 poems.
a Click Here for the memoir "My Summer of '68" (first published in the Washington Post, July 10, 2005, as "First Steps"; all rights reserved).
a Click Here for the poem read at the Clinton Presidential Center Dedication on Nov. 18, 2004. (All rights reserved. Do not reprint without the author's permission!) (PDF file, approximately 200 Kb.)
a Click Here for a letter to the Editor of POETRY Magazine, June 2004. (PDF file, 170 KB)
a Click Here for the short story "The Vibraphone" from Rita Dove's 1985 book FIFTH SUNDAY. (PDF file, approximately 950 Kb.)
Rita Dove's play, The Darker Face of the Earth
The U.S. edition of the play is out of print at this time. If you need a copy, please check your local library or interlibrary loan services. The complete text of the play can also be found in the magazine American Theatre, Vol. 13, No. 9, Nov 1996, and in the anthology Retellings, editors M. B. Clarke and A. G. Clarke, McGraw-Hill, 2004. There is an identical British edition available from Oberon Press in London; in the U.S., copies can be acquired through Rita Dove. We ask theatres needing production copies or teachers who would like to use multiple copies of the play in their classes to get in touch with Rita Dove's office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
a Click Here for the extra material in the out-of-print 3rd US edition. (PDF file, approximately 3 Mb)
a For a radio play version of THE DARKER FACE OF THE EARTH (Windows Media Files, approx 13 Mb) – (prologue and act 1 and act 2). (All rights reserved.)
a Click Here for the complete German translation of THE DARKER FACE OF THE EARTH. (PDF file, approximately 374 Kb.)
Other Sites About Rita Dove
a Click Here for a short homepage for Rita Dove provided by the literary magazine Ploughshares.
a Click Here for a short homepage for her husband Fred Viebahn provided by Ploughshares.
a Click Here for Fred Viebahn's official Home Page.
a Click Here for a newspaper article about Rita Dove's parents. (PDF file, 800 Kb)
a Click Here for an interview with Rita Dove in the Bellingham Review, fall 2006. (PDF file, 1200 Kb)
a Click Here for an exceptional article about the creative process, by Walt Harrington, "The Shape of Her Dreaming — Rita Dove Writes a Poem". © 1995 by The Washington Post. (PDF file, 2.54 MB)
a Click Here for Rita Dove's page on The Poetry Archive, which has recordings and text of several poems and a comprehensive bibliography.
a Click Here for a review of several of Rita Dove's books of poetry in Valparaiso Poetry Review.
a Click Here for an excellent article from "Women in the Arts" magazine, spring 1999. (PDF file, 2 MB)
a Click Here for a good site with photographs at The American Academy of Achievement.
a Click Here for the 1996 Heinz Award.
a Click Here for Modern American Poetry Interview.
a Click Here for Voices from the Gap article.
a Click Here for Ohioana Authors web pages.
a Major Scholarly Book Publications about Rita Dove's Work
-- Therese Steffen, Crossing Color — Transcultural Space and Place in Rita Dove's Poetry, Fiction, and Drama. Oxford University Press, 2001.
-- Malin Pereira, Rita Dove's Cosmopolitanism. University of Illinois Press, 2003.
-- Earl G. Ingersoll, Conversations with Rita Dove. University Press of Mississippi, 2003.
-- Pat Righelato, Understanding Rita Dove. University of South Carolina Press, July 2006.