Rita Dove to Become New York Times Magazine’s Poetry Editor

Rita Dove Headshot

Rita Dove’s New York Times Magazine poetry editorship gives her a platform similar to that of the U.S. Poet Laureate, which she held from 1993 to 1995. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, will begin sharing her keen eye and ear for poetry as the New York Times Magazine’s next poetry editor, starting in June.

“I’m thrilled by the notion of introducing poems from new or forthcoming books,” said Dove, a former U.S. Poet Laureate who has published 10 books of her poetry and edited “The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry” in 2011. Her latest book, “Collected Poems, 1974-2004,” came out in 2016; it was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the NAACP Image Award in Poetry.

Dove said she was honored the magazine will trust her in this role, where she’ll introduce a new poem each week to a reading public that is wider than most poetry circles. The new position won’t affect her role at UVA.

“People will come to it fresh as they’re reading the magazine. It’ll be like slipping it into their breakfast cereal,” said Dove, who received an email from Times Editor-in-Chief Jake Silverstein asking if she would accept the job.

“I’m happy to do it,” she said, adding that it’s a “wonderful opportunity.” It’s also something she’s familiar with: from 2000 to 2002, she wrote a weekly column, “Poet’s Choice,” for the Washington Post.

Dove has garnered numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, the National Humanities Medal in 1996 and the National Medal of the Arts in 2012. She served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995 and as poet laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. On Grounds, she delivered UVA’s 2016 commencement address.

Silverstein tweeted an announcement about her upcoming stint Thursday, calling her “a true legend.”

Dove, whose first selected poem will appear in the July 1 issue, takes over the one-year post from Terrance Hayes when he finishes this summer. Natasha Tretheway, another former U.S. Poet Laureate, and poet Matthew Zapruder served in the role before Hayes.

The New York Times Magazine, published every Sunday for 122 years, was revamped three years ago when Silverstein took the helm as editor-in-chief. One of the new sections he introduced features a poem with an editor’s short commentary.

He introduced the “Poem” section in 2015, writing, “Poetry is often seen as a quaint preoccupation, but we believe it is a vital experience, particularly when published within a newspaper, where the clamor of pressing timely items calls for the counterpoint of a more timeless note.”

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