Rita Dove’s literary honors include grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the General Electric Foundation. She spent 1988-1989 as a Senior Mellon Fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. She served as poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and poet laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She also was a special bicentennial consultant (poet laureate) to the Library of Congress along with poets W. S. Merwin and Louise Glück in 1999-2000. She became a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006.
In 1987, her collection Thomas and Beulah made her the first black woman since Gwendolyn Brooks to win the Pulitzer Prize. She has also been awarded the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award (1986), several Ohioana Book Awards for Poetry (1990, 1994, 2000), the Charles Frankel Prize/National Humanities Medal (1996), the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities (1996), the Sara Lee Frontrunner Award (1997), Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine (1998), the John Frederick Nims Translation Award (1999; together with Fred Viebahn), the Duke Ellington Lifetime Achivement Award (2001), the Emily Couric Leadership Award (2003), the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service (2006; with others), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia (2008), and the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the Premio Capri (both in 2009).