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Missouri S&T launches literary speaker series with poet laureate

Rita Dove on Ask Me Another at the Virginia Arts Festival in Richmond Virginia in 2021
Mike Katzif
Rita Dove on Ask Me Another at the Virginia Arts Festival in Richmond Virginia in 2021

Missouri University of Science and Technology is known for engineering, but the school is launching a literary speakers series tonight to help promote the arts and humanities.

Poet Rita Dove will read her work and speak with an audience on campus in Rolla Monday night at 7 at the Leach Theater on the Missouri S&T campus to launch the series.

Dove was the US Poet Laureate from 1993-1995, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1987, for Thomas and Beulah, a collection of related poems based loosely on the lives of her grandparents.

It will be Dove’s first ever trip to Rolla, and she said audiences at technical schools and in smaller towns are often more receptive to her work than arts focused audiences in big cities.

“I think that one of the things that is so important in any of the arts is that ability to allow the work itself to enter you, to be receptive to it,” Dove said.

Dove has given readings and presentations at tech based schools in the past, and said it’s natural for audiences more attuned to science to find a connection with the arts.

“They may come thinking, ‘poetry and science, what do they have to do with one another?’ And the discovery is that they have everything to do with one another. They spring from the same curiosity,” Dove said.

Dove has a strong connection to science. Her father was a research chemist for Goodyear in her hometown of Akron, OH.

NASA imprinted Dove’s poetry on a remotely controlled spacecraft currently on a 12-year exploration of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, alongside words of other luminaries including Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr.

Dove’s appearance and other new programs are part of Missouri S&T’s efforts to inject more creativity, arts and humanities into the culture of the school better known for science and engineering.

“Dove’s approach to working across disciplines is a perfect model for the work we’re undertaking at Missouri S&T to complement science and technology with a perspective informed by creativity,” said Karen Head, the school’s first director of the Center for Arts and Innovation.

Dove’s reading is free and open to the public.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.