“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”

–Rita Dove 

On August 28, 1952, African American poet Rita Dove was born in Akron, OH to Roy Dove, a research chemist at Goodyear, and Elvira Hord. Dove’s mother instilled a love of reading in Dove as a child. The youngest person to be appointed Poet Laureate, she was also the first African American Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1993–1995). Nine years later, Dove was again the Poet Laureate, this time of Virginia (2004 – 2006). She is also the second African American poet to receive the Pulitzer Prize.

Whether poetry or short stories or plays, her work reaches out beyond one era. Dove pushes what is considered contemporary literary norms, and write on a wide range of topics. Her poetic language is mesmerizing and challenges the distinctions between genres. Dove’s most notable work, Thomas and Beulah, was published by Carnegie Mellon Press in 1986. Her play, The Darker face of the Earth, was performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1996, as well as at the Royal National Theatre in London in 1999.




Sonata Mulattica (2009)

American Smooth (2004)

On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999)

Mother Love (1995)

Selected Poems (1993)

Grace Notes (1989)

Thomas and Beulah (1986)

Museum (1983)

The Yellow House on the Corner (1980)



Fifth Sunday (1985)

Through the Ivory Gate (1992)

The Darker Face of the Earth (1994)


Audio Samples

How Does a Shadow Shine?

A selection of poetry



  • On the Bus with Rosa Parks: New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1999; Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, 1999
  •  Thomas and Beulah: Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1986
  • Chubb Fellowship at Yale University, 2007
  • Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, 2009
  • National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, 2011



Alice McDermott

mcdremott284Alice McDermott

born June 27, 1953

The Richard A. Macksey Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University, Alice McDermott  is also the author of seven novels, the latest of which, Someone, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. In 1998, Alice McDermott’s novel Charming Billy won both the American Book Award and the US National Book Award for Fiction. Her list of awards and honors is impressive and shows the talent that McDermott brings to each piece of her writing.


McDermott’s list of novels, as well as their awards and honors includes:

  • A Bigamist’s Daughter (1982)
  • That Night (1987) — finalist for the National Book Award, the Pen/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize
  • At Weddings and Wakes (1992) — finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
  • Charming Billy (1998) — winner of an American Book Award (1999) and the National Book Award
  • Child of My Heart : A Novel (2002) — nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • After This (2006) — finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
  • Someone (2013) – longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award Fiction


McDermott attended St. Boniface School in Elmont, New York, on Long Island (1967), Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead (1971), and the State University of New York at Oswego, receiving her BA in 1975, and received her MA from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.

She has taught at UCSD and American University, has been a writer-in-residence at Lynchburg College and Hollins College in Virginia, and was lecturer in English at the University of New Hampshire. Her articles, reviews, and stories have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post, USA Today, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Redbook, Ms., Commonweal, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award and the Corrington Award for Literature.