March 14, 2011 — Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, has been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Dove, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, is among 10 new members of the academy, an honor society founded in 1898 that has a core group of 250 artists, musicians and writers.
The induction of new members will take place on May 18 at the academy's annual ceremony in New York. An exhibition of art, architecture, books and manuscripts by new members and awardees will be on view in the academy's galleries from May 19 to June 12.
"I am honored to have been voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters," Dove said, "especially since the academy owes its existence to Archer M. Huntington, who also was responsible for endowing the poetry consultant/U.S. poet laureate position at the Library of Congress."
Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She was educated at Miami University, Universität Tübingen in Germany and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her recent poetry collections include "Sonata Mulattica," "American Smooth," "On the Bus with Rosa Parks" and "Mother Love." She won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1987 for "Thomas and Beulah."
Currently, Dove is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She is a member of both PEN American Center and PEN U.S.A., the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Architect Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, also was selected as a new member of the academy. At U.Va., he designed Bavaro Hall, the new building of the Curry School of Education, and the Darden School's new campus.
In its March 8 awards announcement, the American Academy of Arts and Letters said Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham, author of "The Hours," was also selected, along with visual artists Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Malcolm Morley and James Turrell; composers Martin Boykan and Aaron Jay Kernis; and sculptor-composer Walter De Maria.
Other U.Va. members of the academy are Ann Beattie and Deborah Eisenberg, English professors who teach fiction in the Creative Writing Program, and retired English professor and poet Charles Wright.
Members of the academy are elected for life and pay no dues. Openings occur upon a member's death, with current members nominating and voting in new members. Election to the academy is considered among the highest formal recognitions of artistic merit in the United States.
The academy's purpose is to foster and sustain an interest in literature, music and the fine arts by identifying and encouraging individual artists. This is done by administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding stage readings and performances of new works, and purchasing works of art to be donated to museums.