Poet and author Rita Dove (ΦBK, Miami University-Ohio, 1973) received a National Medal of Arts on February 13, in a ceremony held at the White House.
The National Endowment for the Arts, when announcing the award, described Dove’s work as “equal parts beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics,” adding that Dove has worked to create popular interest in the literary arts, serving as the United States’ youngest Poet Laureate and advocating on behalf of the diversity and vitality of American poetry and literature.
Her book Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1987) won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. In 1993, Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States and became the first African-American to be appointed to the position considered the country’s highest literary honor. She also received a National Humanities Medal in 1996.
The National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is awarded by the President and managed by the National Endowment for the Arts. Award recipients are selected based on their contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the United States. Each year, the Arts Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Arts, the Arts Endowment’s presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory body, reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients. To read more about the 2011 National Medal of Arts recipients on the NEA website, click here.
During the same ceremony, President Obama awarded the National Humanities Medals for 2011. Seven of the nine humanities medalists are also Phi Beta Kappa members. To read more, click here.