Rita Dove, 1993-1995 U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, reflects on her Fulbright experience and her book, Sonata Mulattica, on World Poetry Day. Sonata Mulattica tells the little known story of George Bridgetower, a biracial musician who traveled to Germany and befriended Beethoven. The friendship resulted in the dedication of a sonata to Bridgetower, but a falling out led to the rededication of the Sonata Mulaticca to the violinist Rudolph Kreutzer, who claimed the piece was unplayable and never played it.
Rita Dove served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-1995 and Special Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress bicentennial in 2000; and served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004-2006. She is a 1974 Fulbright U.S. Student to Germany and received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book Thomas and Beulah. Her other books of poetry include Collected Poems 1974-2004, Sonata Mulattica, American Smooth, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, Mother Love, Grace Notes, Museum, The Yellow House on the Corner and Selected Poems; she has also published a collection of stories, Fifth Sunday, a novel, Through the Ivory Gate, a collection of her Poet Laureate lectures, The Poet's World, and a verse drama, The Darker Face of the Earth.
Ms. Dove has received a number of honors and awards, including honorary doctorates from 28 institutions of higher learning, including Yale and Harvard. In 2022, she was one of 11 recipients of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for U.S. poets. A member of PEN America, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rita Dove holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.