2021 Writers' Festival Guest Authors

Distinguished authors return for Agnes Scott College's 50th Annual Writers' Festival, the oldest continuous literary event in Georgia!

The 2021 visiting writers are Rita Dove, who appeared at the 1992 Writers' Festival, and Agnes Scott alumna writer Jacqueline Goldfinger '02, who appeared at the 2016 and 2019 Writers' Festivals.



Rita Dove
Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006, Rita Dove (she/her) has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. More recently, she has garnered the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton, the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service in 2006, in 2008 she was honored with the Library of Virginia's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2009 she received the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the Premio Capri, followed by the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in 2010, the Furious Flower Lifetime Achievement Award and the Carole Weinstein Prize in 2014, the 2015 Poetry and People International Prize in Guangdong, China, the 2016 Stone Award for Lifetime Achievement, and, in 2017, the inaugural U.S. Presidential Scholars Award from the Presidential Scholars Foundation. President Barack Obama presented her with the 2011 National Medal of Arts, which made her the only poet with both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts to her credit. To date, 28 honorary doctorates have been bestowed upon Rita Dove, most recently by Yale University in 2014 and by Smith College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan in 2018.

Ms. Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar as one of the hundred top American high school graduates that year, she received her B.A. summa cum laude from Miami University of Ohio in 1973 and her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1977. In 1974/75 she held a Fulbright scholarship at the University of Tubingen in Germany. She has published the poetry collections The Yellow House on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Selected Poems (1993), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), and Sonata Mulattica (2009; winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award), a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985), the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992), essays under the title The Poet's World (1995), and the play The Darker Face of the Earth, which had its world premiere in 1996 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London, and in many other venues. Seven for Luck, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1998. For "America's Millennium," the White House's 1999/2000 New Year's celebration, Ms. Dove contributed—in a live reading at the Lincoln Memorial, accompanied by John Williams's music—a poem to Steven Spielberg's documentary The Unfinished Journey. She is the editor of The Best American Poetry 2000, The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011), and from January 2000 to January 2002 wrote a weekly column, "Poet's Choice," for The Washington Post. Her latest book, Collected Poems 1974-2004 (2016) was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. A member of PEN America, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rita Dove holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where she lives with her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn. They have a grown daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn.




Jacqueline Goldfinger
Jacqueline Goldfinger (she/they) grew up in the rural South and is best known for her work in the Southern Gothic genre. She won the Yale Drama Prize, Smith Prize, Generations Award, Brown Martin Award, Barrymore Award, and Philadelphia Critics Award. Her plays have been on The Kilroy’s List (twice). She's been nominated for the Weissberger Award, Blackburn Prize, Tait Black Prize, and Foote Prize. Her book, Bottle Fly, published by Yale Press, was a finalist at the International Book Awards. Her plays have been produced at theaters including: The Kennedy Center, Perseverance Theatre, The Court Theatre/New Zealand, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Capital Stage Company, Hangar Theatre, The Seattle Public, Theatre Exile, Unicorn Theatre, The Vortex, and the NYC International Fringe Festival. Her plays have been developed at theaters including: New Georges/Off-Broadway, The National Theatre/London, Wilma Theatre, La MaMa, Disquiet/Lisbon, McCarter Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Barrow Group/Off-Broadway, Arden Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Kitchen Dog Theater, Sacred Fools, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, and Kansas City Rep.
Her choral librettos include Set Myself Free for Amuse Singers (NYC) and Halcyon Days for Voces8 (UK). She and Composer Melissa Dunphy are working on a new opera which will world premiere in 2023 at Oberlin Opera tentatively titled Alice Tierney. She is a Musical Book Writer at The Official BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as well as an Affiliated Artist at New Georges, National New Play Network, and The Lark Playwright’s Center. She is a member of the writers’ lab at The Barrow Group. Her work has been supported by YADDO, Opera America, National Endowment for the Arts, The Millay Colony, Grenada Artist-In-Residence at UC Davis, The Lark’s Playwrights Week, The Orchard Project, Audrey Residency, Drama League, Emerson Stage, Sewanee Writers Conference, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Independence Foundation, and The Mitten Lab, among others. Her work is published by Yale Press, Concord Theatricals, Playscripts, Smith & Krause, and Mormolyke Press. You can read her unpublished work on the New Play Exchange. She is currently commissioned by The Wilma Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Oberlin Opera/Opera America, EST/Sloan Foundation, Thrown Stone Theatre/Offutt Charitable Trust, and Florida Studio Theater.

She teaches playwriting and dramaturgy classes and workshops around the country. In 2012, she co-Founded The Foundry, a free three year playwrights lab for emerging playwrights in Philadelphia, and the program continues today as part of PlayPenn’s Education Program. In 2017, she Founded Page By Page, an inexpensive online resource for playwrights and new work makers, which now continues under the Executive Directorship of Rachel Lynett. She is a believer in lifelong learning and artistic evolution; she believes in making theatre accessible to all communities. She earned her MFA from the University of Southern California and her BA from Agnes Scott College.