Renowned Poet Rita Dove Wins $100K Literary Award Celebrating ‘Proven Mastery’ In the Art of Poetry

Former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove was recently honored by the Academy of American Poets with the prestigious Wallace Stevens Award, according to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

The honor, which comes with a $100,00 prize, is given annually and  recognizes “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.”

Rita Dove
In October 2019, Rita Dove also received the W.E.B DuBois Medal, an honor given by Harvard University. (Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Dove, 67, once served as poet laureate for the United States from 1993 until 1995 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1987. She is also the only poet to be honored with the National Humanities Medal and National Medal of Arts. These days, Dove teaches as a Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

During her career, the celebrated author has published 10 collections of poetry, including her latest work “Collected Poems, 1974-2004” (2016). Her 1999 poetry collection “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.

Dove has been lauded for her one-of-a-kind lyricism covering a range of topics, including notable historic and political events. For instance, the 2009 “Sonata Mulattica” collection explores the forgotten life and career of Black violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower, who was a friend of Beethoven’s.

“Dove is a master at transforming a public or historic element—re-envisioning a spectacle and unearthing the heartfelt, wildly original private thoughts such historic moments always contain,” fellow poet Brenda Shaughnessy said of her work.

After graduating summa cum laude from Miami University in Ohio, Dove would go on to study in West Germany before earning her MFA from the University of Iowa. She made her literary debut in 1980 with her book of poems “The Yellow House on the Corner.”

In addition to poetry, Dove has also published a collection of short stories and the novel “Through the Ivory Gate” in 1992.

She joined faculty at the University of Virginia in 1989 and has been teaching there ever since, according to Poets.org.  Dove also served as poet laureate for the state of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.

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