Rita Dove was the youngest person and the first African-American ever named Poet Laureate of the United States. She held the position from 1993 to 1995. Dove was educated in Ohio, Germany and Iowa and first began teaching in the English department of the University of Arizona in 1981. In 1989 she took a faculty position with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and is currently a professor of English there. She published her first book of poems, The Yellow House on the Corner, in 1980, and in 1987 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection Thomas and Beulah. She has won numerous awards, grants, fellowships and honorary degrees, and is one of the most celebrated poets of her generation. Dove has also published a collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985) and a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992), and collaborated with composer John Williams on a piece for the 1999 Steven Spielberg documentary The Unfinished Journey. Her other books include Museum (1983), Mother Love (1995) and American Smooth (2004).
Gwendolyn Brooks, who is also African-American, held the postion of Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress — the forerunner to the Poet Laureate position. Brooks served from 1985-86 and was the last to hold the position under its old name. Similarly, Robert Lowell was age 30, younger than Dove, when he was named as Consultant in Poetry in 1947.