Biography of Rita Dove

Rita Dove was born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio. Her father was research chemist Ray Dove, who was one of the first Black chemists to work in the tire industry. She graduated from high school as a Presidential Scholar and would later graduate summa cum laude from Miami University in 1973. In 1974 and 1975 she held a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and she received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1977. It was at the University of Iowa that she would meet her husband, the German writer Fred Viebahn, who was a Fulbright fellow in the International Writing Program there.

Dove published her first of many books, The Yellow House on the Corner, in 1980. She taught creative writing at Arizona State University from 1981 through 1987, and in 1987 she earned the Pulitzer Prize for her book Thomas and Beulah, a collection of poems loosely based on her grandparents. In 1992 she was named the youngest-ever United States Poet Laureate, a position she used to generate public interest in poetry. She has held the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia since 1989.

Dove, along with Louise Glück and W. S. Merwin, served as Special Bicentennial Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1999 and 2000. In 2004 she was named the Poet Laureate of Virginia, and since then she has held a number of prominent posts; she is a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets, a longstanding jury member for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, and served for a year as poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine. She has received countless fellowships, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Yale Chubb Fellowship, and awards, including the NAACP Image Award, the National Medal of the Arts, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. She has also received 28 honorary doctorates, most recently one from Harvard University in 2018.

Her literary works have included not only poetry but also short stories, essays, a novel, and a play. Her work cannot be placed into one specific movement; instead it is marked by its clarity, its lyricism, its intimacy, and its attention to politics and history. She and her husband live in Charlottesville, Virginia. She and her husband enjoy ballroom dancing and Argentinean tango, and she plays the viola de gamba and has classical voice training.

Study Guides on Works by Rita Dove

"Cozy Apologia" is a poem by American former US Poet laureate Rita Dove. It was first published in 2004 and is dedicated to her husband, Fred Viebhan.

Dove uses the poem to explore the world-building that happens hidden inside the mundanity of a...

With the 1986 publication of her third volume of verse, Thomas and Beulah, Rita Dove was elevated into that most exclusive sphere of American poets: those singled out for distinction with the honor of a Pulitzer Prize. Thomas and Beulah is a...