Mural Brings Poet Laureate Professor’s Work to Life on UVA’s Corner

Rita Dove and David Guinn painting a building

“The world called, and I answered.”

That line, written by University of Virginia English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, is the centerpiece of a new mural gracing an exterior wall of the Graduate Charlottesville hotel on University Avenue. It comes from Dove’s poem, “Testimonial,” originally published in her book, “On the Bus with Rosa Parks.”

The new mural, painted by muralist David Guinn and publicly dedicated on Tuesday, occupies a prominent place within the bustling Corner shopping district directly adjacent to UVA’s Grounds. Created with support from the Office of the Provost and the Vice Provost for the Arts, it is the third and largest mural in a Paint & Poetry Series led by two local arts groups, the Charlottesville Mural Project and New City Arts. 

Dove, a decorated poet who has published numerous anthologies and short story collections, had plenty of material to choose from. She and Guinn felt that the line from “Testimonial” best captured the mission of UVA and its students.

“Whether you are a student, a parent of a student or just someone passing by, that is kind of the charge of the University,” Dove said. “The world is going to call you. Are you going to be ready to answer? Will you be ready to answer?”