Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast with Rita Dove

This week's podcast puts the spotlight on 2011 National Medal of Arts recipient Rita Dove. Dove has had a remarkable career as a poet, and she has the credentials to prove it. Not only was she the first African-American U. S. Poet Laureate, she was also the youngest ever appointed. She has also served as Consultant to the Library of Congress and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since 1989, she has been teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where she holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English. She has received far too many literary honors to mention, but here’s a highlight reel: 22 honorary doctorates, the 1996 National Humanities Medal, the 3rd Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, and, this week, the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

But first and foremost, there is the artistry of her own poetry. Dove creates work that is equal parts lyricism, critique, and politics. Her poetic language is rich yet precise. Her subjects are wide-ranging---from Thomas and Beulah, a collection of poems loosely based on the lives of her maternal grandparents which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, to her most recent book Sonata Mulattica, which tells the story of George Bridgetower, an African-European violinist who lived in Vienna in the 1800s.

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