Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar, she attended Miami University of Ohio, Universität Tübingen in Germany (as a Fulbright fellow) and the University of Iowa. In 1987 she received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, from 1993-1995 she served as U.S. Poet Laureate, and from 2004-2006 as Poet Laureate of Virginia. Author of a novel, a short story collection, a book of essays, and nine volumes of poetry -- most recently Sonata Mulattica (winner of the 2010 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award) and Collected Poems 1974-2004 (winner of a 2017 NAACP Image Award and the 2017 Library of Virginia Award for Poetry) -- she also edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011). Her song cycle Seven for Luck, with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony, and her play The Darker Face of the Earth had successful runs at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Royal National Theatre in London, among other venues. She wrote a weekly poetry column for The Washington Post from 2001 to 2003 and will be the New York Times Magazine's poetry editor beginning in June 2018.
Rita Dove's honors include the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, Lifetime Achievement Medals from the Library of Virginia and the Fulbright Association, as well as numerous honorary doctorates, most recently from Yale University. In 1996 she received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and in 2011 the National Medal of Arts from President Obama, making her the only poet with both recognitions. She has served as chancellor of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa, as well as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. A member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, where she has taught since 1989.