November 26, 2018
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The Kenyon Review has selected poet Rita Dove as the winner of the 2018 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.
Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and poet laureate of the United States from 1993-1995, Dove is the only poet to have received both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts. Dove will accept the Kenyon Review award at a gala benefit dinner in New York City on Nov. 7. She will then travel to Gambier to present the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture at the annual Kenyon Review Literary Festival on Nov. 9.
The prize honors careers of extraordinary literary achievement, recognizing writers whose influence and importance have shaped the American literary landscape. It celebrates writers for the courage of their vision, their unparalleled imagination and the beauty of their art. Previous winners include E.L. Doctorow ’52 H’76, Margaret Atwood, Elie Wiesel, Ann Patchett, Hilary Mantel and Colm Tóibín.
Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and then studied in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar before attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1980 she published her first poetry collection, “The Yellow House on the Corner,” and a year later began teaching creative writing at Arizona State University. She received the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1987 for her collection “Thomas and Beulah.” She was named United States Poet Laureate in 1993, becoming the first African-American person to hold the position. At age 40, she was also the youngest poet to receive the appointment. Among numerous honors and awards, she has received a Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, a Common Wealth Award for Literature and a National Humanities Medal.
In addition to poetry, Dove has written several works of prose, including the essay collection “The Poet’s World,” the novel “Through the Ivory Gate,” and the short story collection “Fifth Sunday.” Her play “The Darker Face of the Earth” premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was later staged at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Royal National Theatre in London. She edited “The Best American Poetry 2000” and “The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry.”
Dove is currently the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia and poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine. Her “Collected Poems: 1974-2004” was a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, the novelist Fred Viebahn, and competes in ballroom dance.Read the Original Post