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Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah: Breaking down barriers and keeping stories alive

"Thomas and Beulah" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. The collection is inspired by the lives of poet Rita Dove’s grandparents. Dove grew up in Ohio and earned her MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1977. At the time she was the only Black student. She went on to become one of the most celebrated poets in American History and was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 1993, the first Black American to fill that role.

In this edition of the Talk of Iowa Book Club, Charity Nebbe is joined by Dove and poets Tracie Morris and Debra Marquart to discuss "Thomas and Beulah."


  • Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, author of "Playlist for the Apocalypse"
  • Tracie Morris, poet, performer, professor of poetry at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, author of "Who Do with Words: A Blerd Love Tone Manifesto"
  • Debra Marquart, Iowa Poet Laureate, musician, professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University, author of "The Night We Landed on the Moon: Essays between Exile & Belonging"
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa