November 29, 2010 — Rita Dove of the University of Virginia was one of two winners of the ninth annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards for poetry, presented Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C. Dove was recognized for her 2009 book, "Sonata Mulattica," the story of African-Polish violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower. It is her ninth book of poetry.
Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences since 1989, was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995. She served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. Among her many literary honors, Dove won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book, "Thomas and Beulah."
For the first time in the history of the awards, the poetry prize was shared. The other winner was Haki Madhubuti for his book, "Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems: 1966-2009." The founder of Third World Press and of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, he directs the M.F.A. program in creative writing at Chicago State University.
Created by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, the Legacy Awards are presented annually to authors of African descent for the best works in fiction, nonfiction and poetry in the previous year. The foundation, named for the two black writers and founded in 1990, is dedicated to preserving the legacy and ensuring the future of black writers and the literature they produce.