SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former poet laureate will deliver the Lyndon Baines Johnson Distinguished Lecture, 21st installment in a series that honors Southwest Texas State University’s most famous alumnus.
Rita Dove will deliver the address at 7:30 p.m. in the Teaching Theatre of the Alkek Library on the SWT campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Born in Akron, Ohio in 1952, Dove graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English in 1973 from the Miami University of Ohio. She studied for a year on a Fulbright Scholarship at Universitat Tubingen in Germany before joining the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, where she earned her master of fine arts degree in 1977. In 1976 she met her husband, German writer Fred Viebahn, who was a Fulbright Fellow there that year.
She published her first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner, in 1980, and it was followed by Museum in 1983 and Thomas and Beulah in 1986. It was the latter publication, a collection of loosely interrelated poems based on her grandparents’ lives, that earned her the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, making her only the second African-American poet (after Gwendolyn Brooks in 1950) to receive this honor.
Dove was appointed poet laureate of the United States and consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress in 1993. She was the youngest person and the first African American to receive the highest honor in American letters. She held the position for two years.
Also in 1993, Dove was named one of the ten Outstanding Women of the Year by Glamour magazine, and the NAACP honored her with its Great American Artist Award. She received the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Renaissance Forum Award for leadership in literary arts and a Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement in 1994.
Most recently, she received the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, one of the largest individual achievement prizes in the world, and a 1996 Charles Frankel Prize, the U.S. government’s highest honor for writers and scholars in the humanities.
Dove taught creative writing at Arizona State University from 1981 to 1989 and now is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.