Rita Dove, born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio, earned degrees from Miami University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her record of achievement is unprecedented. When in February 2011 she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, she became the first person to have received all three of the country’s highest arts distinctions—the others being the Humanities Medal and a term of service as Poet Laureate (2003–5). She has been a frequent guest of Bill Moyers’ PBS series. In 1987, she received the Pulitzer Prize for her third collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah, which is loosely based on her maternal grandparents’ lives. She also has nine other volumes of poetry: Collected Poems 1974–2004 (2016), Sonata Mulattica (2009), American Smooth (2004), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), Mother Love (1995), Selected Poems (1993), Grace Notes (1989), Museum (1983), and The Yellow House on the Corner (1980). She has published a collection of essays, The Poet’s World (1995); a drama, The Darker Face of the Earth: A Verse Play in Fourteen Scenes (1994); a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992); and a collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985). She has edited two volumes, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2011) and The Best American Poetry 2000 (2000). From 2004 to 2006, Dove served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia. She holds twenty-five honorary doctorates, is a classically trained musician (viola de gamba), and has done numerous musical collaborations, including Seven for Luck, seven poems by Rita Dove with music by John Williams, and Umoja: Each One of Us Counts, music by Alvin Singleton, commissioned by the Atlanta Olympic Summer Games. Since 1989, she has taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English.
Linda Pastan’s fourteenth book of poems, Insomnia, will be published by W. W. Norton in the fall of 2015. Recent poems have appeared in the Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, and the Gettysburg Review. Her books have twice been finalists for the National Book Award, and in 2003 she won the Ruth Lily Prize for lifetime achievement. She was poet laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995.
Mary Hood, 2014 inductee to the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, is the author of the novel Familiar Heat (1995) and the short-story collections And Venus Is Blue (1986) and How Far She Went (1984). A new collection of stories, A Clear View of the Southern Sky, is forthcoming from the University of South Carolina Press in 2015.