University of Virginia English professor and poet Rita Dove and historian Elizabeth R. Varon are among several winners of the 17th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. At an Oct. 18 awards celebration in Richmond, Dove received the 2014 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry, and Varon received the 2014 Literary Award for Nonfiction for her book, “Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War.”
The Weinstein Prize, established in 2005, is awarded each year to a poet with strong connections to Virginia. The $10,000 prize recognizes significant recent contributions to the art of poetry and is awarded on the basis of a range of achievement in the field. The other literary award categories were fiction, poetry and literary lifetime achievement, as well as nonfiction. Those winners also receive an engraved crystal book.
Dove, who served as U.S. poet laureate from 1993 to 1995 and as poet laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006, previously won the Library of Virginia’s 2008 Literary Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to editing “The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry,” she has published nine volumes of poetry, a book of short stories, a play and a collection of poet laureate lectures.
Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English, was awarded the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book, “Thomas & Beulah.” Many other accolades and honorary degrees have followed, including the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award and the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton.
Previous U.Va. recipients of the Weinstein Prize include George Garrett, Charles Wright, Lisa Russ Spaar and alumna Kelly Cherry.
The judges of the 2014 Literary Award for Nonfiction said they felt that in “Appomattox,” Varon “expertly traces the shock as news of the surrender spread and spawned a three-way American debate over the meaning of the war that still reverberates today.”
Varon, the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History, will give a talk at the U.Va. Miller Center on “Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment and the Legacy of the Civil War” on Oct. 28 at 3:30 p.m.
Varon has also published “Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859”; “We Mean to Be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia”; and “Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy.”
The other two nonfiction finalists also were U.Va. faculty members: Barbara Perry, co-chair of the Miller Center Oral History Program and author of “Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch,” and Alan Taylor, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor in the Corcoran Department of History in the College of Arts & Sciences and author of “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832,” for which he won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this year.