September 12, 2013

Poet Rita Dove has been named Bucknell's 11th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters.

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By Heather Johns

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Poet Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States, has been named the 11th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University.

Dove will give a poetry reading and Q&A on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell. The event is free and open to the public.

Dove brings a personal perspective to historical and political events. She writes about other art forms, including ballroom dancing and music.

"For Dove, dance is an implicit parallel to poetry," said Emily Nussbaum in The New York Times review of her 2004 collection American Smooth. "Each is an expression of grace performed within limits; each an art weighted by history but malleable enough to form something utterly new."

Dove has received many honors and awards for her work, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, a Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service. In 1996 she received a National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton, and President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of Arts, making her the only poet with both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts to her credit.

Her poetry collections include The Yellow House on the Corner, Museum, Thomas and Beulah, Grace Notes, Selected Poems, Mother Love, On the Bus with Rosa Parks and Sonata Mulattica. Dove has also published a book of short stories, a novel, essays and a play. In 2011 she published The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry.

Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia and was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2006 to 2012.

Weis Award
Established in 2002, the Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters is awarded biennially to honor and recognize individuals who represent the highest level of achievement in the craft of writing within the realms of fiction, non-fiction or biography. Previous recipients have been Robert A. Caro, Edward Albee, John Edgar Wideman, David McCullough, Derek Walcott, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Wolfe, Salman Rushdie, John Updike and Toni Morrison.

The Weis Fellowship was established through a grant from the Degenstein Foundation in honor of Janet Weis, an author, civic leader and philanthropist as well as trustee emerita of the University. Her husband, Sigfried Weis, was chair of the Bucknell Board of Trustees from 1982-88.