Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993-1995 and Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004-2006, Rita Dove is a poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and musician. She was appointed a "special consultant in poetry" for the Library of Congress' bicentennial year from 1999-2000. She is the only American poet to win both the National Humanities Medal (1996) and the National Medal of Arts (2011). Dove is the second African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1987 for her poetry collection Thomas and Beulah. Dove's first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner, was published in 1980. Some of her more notable works include Lady Freedom Among Us (1994), Fifth Sunday (1985), and The Darker Face of the Earth (1996), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), and most recently Sonata Mulattica (2009). In 2011, she published the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry.
Born in Akron, Ohio in 1952, Ms. Dove was named a presidential scholar in 1970 as one of the top 100 high school graduates. She received her B.A. from Miami University of Ohio, and her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Tubingen, Germany in 1974-1975.
Ms. Dove has been a guest of the White House to read works of poetry on numerous occasions. She has written texts for major symphonic and other musical works. Some of her poetry has been commissioned for national occasions. In addition, she has served in leadership positions in numerous professional associations and has won awards and fellowships too numerous to name.
Rita Dove taught creative writing at Arizona State University from 1981 to 1989 before joining the faculty of the University of Virginia. Since 1993, she has held the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English.