Rita Dove is coming home.
The former poet laureate and Akron native will return to the region that raised her to celebrate her new “Collected Poems” and for the 30th anniversary of her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, “Thomas and Beulah.”
“An Evening with Rita Dove & Friends” serves as an intellectual appetizer for our 2016 awards ceremony, with jury chair Henry Louis Gates and all five 2016 winners — Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Mary Morris, Orlando Patterson, Lillian Faderman and Brian Seibert — scheduled to attend. Poet Toi Derricotte, who won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for “The Black Notebooks” in 1998, will introduce her friend to a hometown crowd.
The evening is co-sponsored by Brews and Prose, the literary series.
Published in 1986, “Thomas and Beulah” is based loosely on Dove’s maternal grandparents and is set in Akron. It traces their lives through the birth of her grandfather Thomas in the early 20th century until the death of her grandmother, whose actual name was Georgianna, in the 1960s.
“This is the quintessential moment to celebrate Rita Dove in her beloved community,” said Karen R. Long, manager of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards for the Cleveland Foundation. “She has served more than 20 years as an indispensable juror, and she has elevated American literature with her poems and teaching and editing. For most of us, that began with ‘Thomas and Beulah,’ which brought a black, middle-class, mid-American couple into our collective literary consciousness.”
The celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. on September 14 in the Maltz Performing Arts Center on the Case Western Reserve University campus. Tickets are free and parking is $7. Tickets for parking and for the event are available here or by calling 216-368-6062.