Rita Frances Dove (born August 28, 1952) is an American poet and author. From 1993–1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She was the first African American to be appointed since the position was created by an act of Congress in 1986 out of the previous “consultant in poetry” position (1937–86). Dove also received an appointment as “special consultant in poetry” for the Library of Congress’s bicentennial year from 1999–2000. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1987, and she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.
Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, to Ray Dove, the first African-American chemist to work in the U.S. tire industry (as research chemist at Goodyear), and Elvira Hord, who achieved honors in high school and would share her passion for reading with her daughter. In 1970 Dove graduated from Buchtel High School as a Presidential Scholar. Later, Dove graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Miami University in 1973. In 1974 she held a Fulbright Scholarship from Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1977.