Rita Frances Dove (born August 28, 1952 in Akron, Ohio, USA) is an African American United States poet and author. She served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995. Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar, she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Miami University and her MFA from the University of Iowa. She also held a Fulbright Scholarship at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany. For “America’s Millennium”, the White House’s 1999/2000 New Year’s celebration, Ms. Dove contributed — in a live reading at the Lincoln Memorial, accompanied by John Williams’s music — a poem to Steven Spielberg’s documentary The Unfinished Journey.
Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she lives with her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn. They have a grown daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn. She received her undergraduate degree in English in 1973 from Miami University of Ohio. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1977. Her most famous work is Thomas and Beulah, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 1986, a collection of poems based on the lives of her grandparents, for which she received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1987. She taught creative writing at Arizona State University from 1981 to 1989.
Dove served as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and, most recently, the 2006 Common Wealth Award, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1997 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the 1996 National Humanities Medal