From The Root:
Poet and author Dove smiles at President Obama as she receives the 2011 National Medal of Arts in the East Wing of the White House on Feb. 13, 2012.
In 1993 Rita Dove was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, making her the youngest person — and the first African-American — to receive this highest official honor in American letters. She held the position for two years. In 1999 she was reappointed Special Consultant in Poetry for 1999/2000, the Library of Congress's bicentennial year, and in 2004 Virginia governor Mark Warner appointed her as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a two year position. Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952 as the daughter of the first Black research chemist who, in the 1950s, broke the race barrier in the tire industry. In 1970 she was invited to the White House as a Presidential Scholar, one of the hundred most outstanding high school graduates in the United States that year, before attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as a National Achievement Scholar. She graduated summa cum laude (as well as Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi) with a degree in English in 1973, followed by two semesters as a Fulbright scholar at Universität Tübingen in Germany. She then joined the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1977. In 1976 she met the German writer Fred Viebahn, who was a Fulbright fellow in the University of Iowa's International Writing Program that year; they married in 1979, and their daughter Aviva Chantal Tamu Dove-Viebahn was born in 1983. Appearances in magazines and anthologies had already won national acclaim for Rita Dove when she published her first poetry collection, The Yellow House on the Corner, with Carnegie-Mellon University Press in 1980. It was followed by Museum (1983) and Thomas and Beulah (1986), both also from Carnegie-Mellon. Thomas and Beulah, a collection of interrelated poems loosely based on her grandparents' life, earned her the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, making her the second African American poet (after Gwendolyn Brooks in 1950) to receive this prestigious award.
More here. (Note: In honor of African American History Month, we will be linking to at least one related post throughout February. The 2012 theme is Black Women in American Culture and History).