The following is a guest post by Bryan Koen, graduate research assistant for the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress.
The Poetry and Literature Center congratulates former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove, to whom President Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts on Monday, February 13. At the White House ceremony, the president read the following citation:
“Ms. Dove creates works that are equal parts beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics. Ms. 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.”
Dr. Carolyn Brown, director of the Office of Scholarly Programs and the John W. Kluge Center at the Library, was on hand as Ms. Dove’s guest. Brown said afterwards, “Monday’s ceremony was moving in a special way. First, it celebrated a wide range of arts and a wide variety of scholarship. Further, each person honored had great talent and often great opportunity, which each had used to the fullest, working hard for hours and hours and hours, over years and years and years. They had achieved greatness. In most cases they are still achieving it.”
Ms. Dove is just the fourth American to receive both the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal, and the first laureate to receive both. She served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 1993 to 1995, and from 1999 to 2000 shared the position with Louise Glück and W. S. Merwin. Speaking on the occasion of her first appointment, Ms. Dove noted that she relished “the opportunity to make a difference in the Washington area and throughout the country.” We are thrilled to see her honored again in the nation’s capital, for her vital work.