Rita Dove received 2024 Thomas Robinson Prize for Southern Literature

On Feb. 23, 2024 Mercer University’s Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies awarded the 2024 Thomas Robinson Prize for Southern Literature to former Poet Laureate of the United States Rita Dove. 

“The litany of awards and accolades Rita Dove has received testify to the singular fact that she is one of the most important writers in American letters,” said Dr. David A. Davis, chair of the Robinson Prize Committee. “As a poet, she is a virtuoso of form, capable of bending verse to her will, capturing melody without notes and rhythm without drumbeats. Her true importance, though, lies in the subjects she explores in her poems. She uses her verse to tell the stories of people overlooked by history, humble people, such as her grandparents who left the South to settle in the Midwest. These stories are vital to the narrative of the United States, and Professor Dove tells them with the majesty they deserve.”

The Thomas Robinson Prize, previously known as the Sidney Lanier Prize, was first awarded in 2012 to Ernest Gaines, and most recently -- in 2023 -- to Percival Everett. The prize is awarded to writers who have engaged and extended the long, often complicated, tradition of writing about the South. More information about it and the Feb. 23 event can be found here.