19 Facts About Rita Dove


Rita Frances Dove was born on August 28,1952 and is an American poet and essayist.


Rita Dove 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.


Rita 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.


Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, to Ray Dove, one of the first African-American chemists to work in the US tire industry, and Elvira Hord, who achieved honors in high school and would share her passion for reading with her daughter.


In 1970, Rita Dove graduated from Buchtel High School as a Presidential Scholar.


Rita Dove received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1977.


Rita Dove taught creative writing at Arizona State University from 1981 to 1989.


At the age of 40, Rita Dove was the youngest person in the position and the first African American since the title was changed to Poet Laureate.


Early in her tenure as poet laureate, Rita Dove was featured by Bill Moyers in a one-hour interview on his PBS prime-time program Bill Moyers Journal.


Rita Dove was on the board of the Associated Writing Programs from 1985 to 1988, leading the organization as its president from 1986 to 1987.


In 2000 and 2001 Rita Dove wrote a weekly column, "Poet's Choice", for The Washington Post.


Rita Dove has published eleven volumes of poetry, a book of short stories, a collection of essays, and a novel, Through the Ivory Gate.


Rita Dove collaborated with composer John Williams on the song cycle Seven for Luck.


Rita Dove edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry, published in 2011.


In 2019, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth, Rita Dove put the African-American poetic reception of Whitman into perspective at a poetry festival in Bogota, Colombia, during a round-table session with Robert Pinsky.


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 in the medals' 110-year history.


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.


Rita Dove 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.


Rita 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.