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Rita Dove Biography | Poet

Photo of Rita Dove

Rita Dove is one of the most acclaimed poets of the modern age. She is the proud winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the 1996 National Humanities Medal, and the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award in addition to many other awards and professional distinctions. She was born on the 28th of August in 1952 and is still healthy and professionally active at the age of 63. Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio and is one of the most famous people today to have come from that area. She was the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress between 1993 and 1995.

Educational Background

Rita Dove was an excellent student while attending Buchtel High School and was a Presidential Scholar upon graduation. She then attended Miami University and graduated summa cum laude, earning a B.A. in the process. She also attended the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen in Germany on a Fulbright scholarship. Rita Dove finally managed to earn her MFA at the University of Iowa in the year 1977. Rita Dove was a highly educated individual who truly managed to make the most of her impressive and prestigious educational background.

Rita Dove's Family and Personal Background

Much like their daughter would grow up to be, Rita Dove's parents managed to be positive role models. Her father Ray Dove was a research chemist at Goodyear, and he was the first African American chemist to be employed by the American tire industry in general. Rita Dove's mother Elvira Hord was an honor's student when she was in high school and she had a tremendous passion for reading. She managed to be personally inspiring to her daughter in that regard.

Like many modern poets, Rita Dove is also an academic. Her earliest academic position was at Arizona State University, where she taught creative writing from the year 1981 to 1989. She starting teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1989.

Rita Dove breaks the stereotype of poets as people with troubled romantic backgrounds who never get to enjoy stable love lives. She married Fred Viebahn in 1979, and they have been happily married ever since.

Impressive Achievements

It is difficult to list all of the professional achievements of Rita Dove. She became the United States Poet Laureate in the early 1990's at the age of 40, making her the youngest person to receive the honor, and the second person of color to have held the position after Robert Hayden. She was awarded the 1996 National Humanities Medal and the 2011 National Medal of Arts. Rita Dove also managed to be the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006, so she managed to be the Poet Laureate at the state level and the national level. She holds 25 honorary doctorates.

Sonata Mulattica is considered one of the most daring works of her career, and it was released in 2009. However, her 1986 work Thomas and Beulah is still probably her most well-known work, and it helped establish her as a famous poet in the first place.

The Significance of Rita Dove's Career and Work

Rita Dove is something of an important figure in the African American community in general, as well as being an important figure in the feminist community. Her work would be noteworthy on that basis alone. Her work is powerful enough that she was able to overcome many social barriers in order to achieve the level of enduring fame that she has today.

Her poetry has something of a musical quality to it. In addition to being a world-class poet, Rita Dove was a talented cellist from a very early age. She had the sense of rhythm and timing that only musicians seem to have, which was certainly reflected in her work. The cello is a very sensual instrument as well, and she was able to inject some of that sensuality into her own work.

However, the subject matter of her work was as important as the style. Rita Dove, like many poets who are members of oppressed groups, was able to talk about the experiences of people whose voices are stifled and rarely heard. She was also able to do it beautifully, ensuring that those voices where going to be heard the right way. 

Rita Dove: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes

Book: Reflection on the Important Things