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Rita Dove

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Category: Biographies

Autor: reviewessays 16 November 2010

Words: 932 | Pages: 4

Anybody who is currently involved in the world of literature or literary achievements cannot possibly escape hearing the name “Rita Dove.” In October of 1993, Ms. Dove’s poem Lady Freedom Among Us was published in a limited edition by Janus Press and became the 4 millionth piece collected by the University of Virginia Libraries. In 1994, she read the same poem at the Capitol building to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Capitol and the restoration of the Freedom Statue, which adorns the roof of the Capitol Building. This alone should be enough to prove that Rita Dove is probably one of the most accomplished writers in the world today

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952 to Ray and Elvira Dove. Rita’s father was the first black research chemist, who broke the race barrier in the tire industry. In 1970, a young Ms. Dove was one of the hundred most outstanding high school graduates in the United States and was invited to the White House to meet President Nixon as a Presidential Scholar. She then attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as a National Achievement Scholar. Ms. Dove graduated summa cum laude in 1973 with a degree in English before traveling to Germany in order to enroll in Universitдt Tьbingen as a Fulbright Scholar for two semesters. She then returned to join the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she met German writer Fred Viebahn, who was a fellow Fulbright in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program that year. Ms. Dove earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1977 before marrying Fred in 1979. Their daughter Aviva Chantal Tamu Dove-Viebahn was born in 1983, who graduated from Mary Baldwin College with a B.A in theatre and biochemistry in 2001 before receiving her M.A in art history from the University of Virginia in 2003.

Magazines and anthologies had already begun promoting Ms. Dove’s career and earning her a national spotlight before she published her first collection of poems The Yellow House on the Corner in 1980 with Carnegie-Mellon Press. She followed that with her second and third poetry collections Museum in 1983 and Thomas and Beulah in 1986, both also with Carnegie-Mellon. Thomas and Beulah was a book of interrelated poems loosely based on the life of Ms. Dove’s grandparents, which won her national acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize in 1987. One critic observed that Ms. Dove “combines a novelist’s edge for action…with the lyric poet’s exalted sense of language.” (Critical Survey of Poetry: English Language Series, p. 954-955) Winning the Pulitzer made Rita Dove the second African-American to earn this award, after Gwendolyn Brooks in 1950. Ms Dove published several other books, containing poetry and short stories before trying something new and writing the verse drama The Darker Face of the Earth, which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, supported by a huge grant from the W. Alton Jones Foundation in 1996. The critically acclaimed play was eventually performed in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Washington D.C.; London, England; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Los Angeles, California.

These are but a few of the accomplishments Ms. Dove achieved throughout the course of her career, and are quite small ones compared to others that she earns as well, with the exception of the Pulitzer. In 1993, Ms. Dove was named one of ten “Outstanding Women of the Year” by Glamour magazine and received the NAACP’s Great American Artist Award, followed by the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Renaissance Forum Award

for Leadership in the Literary Arts, as well as the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement and the Carl Sandburg Award from the International Platform Association. The following year, Rita Dove co-hosted an unprecedented gathering of Nobel Laureates in Literature with none other than former President Jimmy Carter in April as part of a Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta, Georgia. S. Dove then received the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, one of the largest cash prizes in the world, as well as the Charles Frankel Prize/National Humanities Medal, which is the United States Government’s highest honor for writers and scholars. Ms. Dove was also the provider of texts for musical works by Tania Leуn, whose work premiered at the Merlin Concert Hall in New York in 1996, and Bruce Adolphe, who premiered his show the Lincoln Center, also located in New York, in 1997.

As anybody can tell, Rita Dove has achieved a great deal, not only as an African-American, not only as a woman, but as one of the greatest and most accomplished writers in this day and age. She has single-handedly proven that race and sex are not hindrances, but part of a person, from which, the individual should draw inspiration and pride. In spite of all of these achievements, the biggest surprise came from none other than Ms. Dove herself when she said in an interview: “I loved to write when I was a child. I wrote, but I always thought it was something that you did as a child, then you put away childish things. I thought it was something I would do for fun.” ()


1. Dove, Rita. On The Bus With Rosa Parks. New York, New York: W. W. Norton &

Company, Inc., 1999

2. Magill, Frank N., Critical Survey of Poetry : English Language Series. Pasadena,

California: Salem Press Inc., 1992

3. Academy of Achievement.


4. Stamper, Andy. Rita Dove


5. Rita Dove : A Who2 Profile.