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Rita Dove Biography
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Rita Dove
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Rita Dove, an exceptional poet, story writer, and script writer, started seriously making her career as a writer in 1980 when she wrote her first book, The Yellow House on the Corner. She became very successful for many reasons. In her childhood days, Dove loved to read for countless hours on end. Her passion for reading, and for books in general, led her to want to write herself. Her parents encouraged her to read as much as she could, which helped her develop as a writer of both poems and stories.

Dove was raised in Akron, Ohio in an African American household consisting of herself, two younger sisters, an older brother and her mother and father. Her parents were very bright and encouraged her intellectually. They were always there for Dove to make sure that she got the best education possible. Her father was the first black research chemist who broke the race barrier in the tire industry. This gave her even more confidence because she figured since her father could reach for his goals, why couldn’t she? As she explains, “My parents instilled in us the feeling that learning was the most exciting thing that could happen to you, and it never ends, and isn't that great.”

Dove kept exploring her interest in writing as her life progressed. In 1970, she was accepted by the White House as a Presidential Scholar and was recognized as one of the hundred best high school students in the United States. She then attended Miami University in Ohio, and then went overseas to attend the Universitaet Tuebingen in West Germany on a Scholarship from 1974-1975. After graduating from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1977, she knew that she was not going to deny her dream of becoming a writer and poet.

When Dove was 34 she received the Pulitzer for Thomas and Beulah, a book about her grandparents, “a collection of poems that dealt with their lives: first his side and then her side of the story”. She remembers it as “the first moment that really stood out in terms of public excitement and recognition.” Doves second big surprise was when she became the youngest person at the age of 40, and first African American to be honored as U.S. Poet Laureate in 1993 and held the title until 1995. In these few years she was also appointed Poet Laureate in 1994, an award she thought was only given to much older poets. Dove went on to receive many more prestigious awards such as the National Humanities Award in 1996.

Her poems interest readers because they can read them and picture her life as a girl. We are able to imagine my own childhood and relate to her life. “When I was young, I ran the day to its knees./ There were trees to swing on, crickets for capture./ I can remember the trees I climbed and the noisy crickets out my window at night.” This is a perfect example of the readers connection to Dove's work. Dove deserves the many awards she has received. She has studied and worked hard to become such a talented poet and writer.

Biography by: Meg Hewitt
View Rita Dove:  Poems | Quotes | Biography | Books

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