Ohio Connection: Born in Akron
Renown for her lyrical, immediate and accessible style, poet Rita Dove is the first African American as well as the youngest individual to have ever become a Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
Her parents’ second child, Dove was born in Akron, Ohio. An insatiable reader of everything from Mad Magazine, Shakespeare to the current best-sellers, Dove gained the confidence to write her own poetry after having attended a reading by poet John Ciardi in the 11th grade.
In 1970, she was named a Presidential Scholar (one of the top one-hundred high school graduates in the country) and attended Miami University as a National Merit Scholar. After graduating in 1973 (Phi Beta Kappa), Dove utilized her Fulbright fellowship to attend the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. Following her return to the United States, Dove pursued her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, receiving it in 1977. Two years later, Dove married the German born novelist Fred Viebahn. Today, they live in Charlottesville, Virgina, where Dove is a Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Dove’s best-known book of poems, Thomas and Beulah, won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. In addition to her nine published poetry collections, Dove has written in other mediums such as the short story (Fifth Sunday, 1985), the novel (Through the Ivory Gate, 1992) and the play (The Darker Face of the Earth: A Verse Play in Fourteen Scenes, 1994). Although she predominately draws on African-American experiences, Dove presents issues that transcend racial boundaries.