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Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate: A Resource Guide

About Rita Dove at the Library of Congress

Rita Dove served as the Library of Congress's 7th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 1993-1995. The links below provide more information about her activities at the Library, including webcasts, blog posts, and related news releases.

On May 19, 1993, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the appointment of Rita Dove as the Library's seventh Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Dove began her duties as Poet Laureate on October 7th by opening the literary season with a reading of her work.

Rita Dove used her first term to focus on the diversity of poets and writers featured at the Library of Congress and greatly increased the audience size at Library events.

Dr. Billington announced on February 4, 1994, that Dove had been reappointed for a second term. Of her reappointment, Dove said:

I had some fairly large ideas of things I wanted to get done. One year just wasn't enough. We are planning an environmental symposium for Earth Day. We'll get all types of people together, not just writers: scientists, artists, maybe even politicians. I also have some plans for a 'Poetry Town Meeting' using television to reach children in schools and rural areas. We need to show that the audience for poetry is not just for people who study it all their lives.

During her second term, Dove continued to host many Library of Congress events and symposia that championed children's poetry and jazz, and explored artists throughout the African diaspora.

A few years later, in 1999, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington named Rita Dove as a Special Bicentennial Consultant, along with W.S. Merwin and Louise Glück. Billington explained:

We want to create a once-in-a-century arrangement, not only to celebrate poetry during our 200th birthday, but also to significantly increase support for the national outreach of the Poetry Office and the Poet Laureate.

Rita Dove served one term as Special Bicentennial Consultant. During this time, she worked with Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, along with the other special consultants, to celebrate the Library's bicentennial with poetry readings and a symposium.

In 2022 she received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry (for lifetime achievement) from the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress press releases and Information Bulletin articles about Rita Dove's poet laureate appointment, activities, and events are listed below.

Rita has been featured on both the Poetry and Literature Center's blog, From the Catbird Seat. Those blog posts are linked below:

The Library of Congress features several recordings of Rita Dove reading and discussing her poetry and the poetry of other poets. These are listed below.


Other Recordings