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Release: Immediate

UI alumna Dove is first to win two major national awards in the same year

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Poet Rita Dove, an alumna of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and former U.S. Poet Laureate, has become the first person ever to receive two of the nation's major humanities awards in the same year.

Last month Dove received the $250,000 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, and on Thursday, Jan. 9, President Clinton will present the $5,000 Charles Frankel Prize to her. The Frankel Prize ceremony, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be followed by a dinner at the White House. The Frankel Prize is America's highest official recognition for leadership in the humanities.

Following undergraduate study as a Presidential Scholar and a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany, Dove was a Teaching/Writing Fellow in the Writers' Workshop. Her UI Master of Fine Arts thesis grew into her first poetry collection, "The Yellow House on the Corner."

Her distinguished literary career has included a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 1987 Pulitzer Prize. She was Poet Laureate of the United States 1993-95, becoming the first African-American to occupy that position.

In addition to six books of poetry, Dove has also published a novel, a book of essays and her recent play, "The Darker Face of Earth." The play, which received standing ovations and rave reviews at its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last summer, is now bound for productions at the Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

She is currently writing the lyrics of a song cycle for Kathleen Battle, who is scheduled to perform the songs -- set to music by John Williams -- with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center next October. Additional performances are planned with the New York Philharmonic in January 1988.
Dove is now a faculty member of the University of Virginia.