Weis Fellow Rita Dove engages with students

Katey Duffy, Staff Writer

Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States said inspiration comes when we least expect it. She gave a presentation at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 27.

Dove said she found inspiration for her collection of poems “Sonata Mulattica” about the English musician George Bridgetower from renting a movie about Beethoven with her husband on a random weekend night. She said this small event enabled her curiosity and helped her discover more information about this mystery man.

“The story of his life haunted me, especially because he was someone who we knew nothing about,” Dove said.

Dove was honored and inducted as the 11th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at the beginning of her presentation at the University. Dove read personal poems as well as famous poems to start the evening and ended with a question and answer session with Professor of English Shara McCallum.

President John Bravman presented Dove with this prestigious award, and a few students had dinner with Bravman and Dove before the presentation. Students at the dinner were chosen randomly from those who responded to an email Bravman sent to the student body. Those in attendance at the dinner included Bravman, Professor of English Carmen Gillespie, retired faculty member Gary Sojka, Provost Mick Smyer, and Vice President of Communications and Community Relations Pete Mackey. Students included Ashley Sandonato ’17 and Danielle Taylor ’17.

“She was warm, insightful, and seemed very down-to-earth, chatting casually about both her Pulitzer Prize and the pistachio cake,” Sandonato said.

Dove majored in creative journalism in college but decided to pursue poetry in the middle of her college career. She never anticipated a career as a poet.

“It was encouraging to hear that she went into college without a definite direction, pursued a degree without thinking about how much money she made, and eventually had great success in doing what she loved,” Jared Feindt ’16 said.

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