Writer Rita Dove named Janet Weis fellow

Ben Kaufman


Rita Dove was named the new Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters on Sept 10.

Dove was the first African-American woman to serve as a Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1993-1995. She is also the second African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

“Dove is more than just a poet,”  Shara McCallum, director of the Stadler Center for Poetry said. “Her work will also appeal to people on a historical level. Her work is personal and political while exploring philosophical issues and questions.”

Dove will be the third woman to win this award after Toni Morrison in 2002 and Joyce Carol Oates in 2006.

The Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters, which is awarded by the Office of the President, began in 2002 as a way to honor and recognize distinguished writers in the literary fields of poetry, drama, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Other winners include Edward Albee, Robert A. Caro, Salman Rushdie, and Tom Wolfe. 

“We consult with numerous faculty in the literary arts, ask for their recommendations for individuals who they believe meet the standards of the Weis Fellow,” Pete Mackey, vice president for Communications and Community Relations said.

After receiving those recommendations, University President John Bravman suggests his favorites for the award, according to Mackey.

“The biggest qualification is to be a preeminent writer in one’s field,” McCallum said. Past winners include recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Dove will give a poetry reading and question and answer session, moderated by McCallum, on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

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