Alumna Rita Dove was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama Feb. 13.
Dove is a former poet laureate and graduated from Miami University in 1973.
Keith Tuma is an English professor and Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Science as well as the Editor for the Miami University Press.
Tuma said he is pleased and proud of Miami for having produced such a distinguished poet as Dove. He is not surprised that Dove received the National Medal of Arts, the latest in a long series of awards earned by Dove.
“I’m pleased, and I would like to say I’m not surprised because Miami has a long history of distinguished professors teaching both poetry and poetry writing going back well beyond the years that Dove was an undergraduate at Miami,” Tuma said.
English professor David Schloss said that the National Medal of Arts is selective because the award can honor people from several different fields.
“Everybody who’s held it is pretty seriously considered by poets in general,” Schloss said.
Junior creative writing major Tammy Atha said she thinks Dove’s achievements honor Miami’s creative writing program.
“I think that her being the poet laureate and being a Miami alumna speaks volumes for the creative writing program here,” Atha, who is also a poet, said. “It speaks to the fact that we’ve got a really good program and really great people working inside of it.”
Atha said awards in the arts help prove the humanities have value.
“I think awards for the humanities proves that there are still spaces for the arts to function and it’s not just this dying dream,” Atha said. “I think it says that the humanities have a space in which to be legitimized because I can’t imagine a world without poetry and I know that some people could.”
Atha said poetry can offer an alternative form of communication.
“Poetry has always been a love-hate relationship for me, and it’s the one way that I know how to communicate and I’m sure that’s probably how a lot of people feel,” Atha said.
Dove still maintains a strong relationship with Miami and returned to Miami in 2003 to give the Hammond Lecture, Tuma said.
With Dove’s permission, the Miami University Press will include one of her poems in a book currently in preparation about the Freedom Summer Memorial on Western Campus, Tuma said.