Rita Dove, Poet and essayist. She is the first African-American to have served as U.S. Poet Laureate, a position which she held from 1993-1995. She is also the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Price for Poetry.
"I think it is imagination. I think that without imagination we can go nowhere. And imagination is not something that's just restricted to the arts. Every scientist that I have met who has been a success has had to imagine. You have to imagine it possible before you can see something, sometimes. You can have the evidence right in front of you, but if you can't imagine something that has never existed before, it's impossible. And, with imagination, there are a lot of other characteristics I think you need too. You need determination, and you need to have some sense, some faith in the human ability to persevere and to triumph. Whether you have faith in yourself as that human being is a different point, but at least the faith that human beings can do it. But imagination, in a certain way, contains all of those things, too, because you have to imagine that it is possible for human beings to do something before you can do it."
"I had a couple teachers who did inspire me. One was this eleventh grade English teacher -- eleventh and twelfth grade. She and I, we still have tea together sometimes today. I was frightened before I went into her class. I heard she was a battle axe. I heard that she would flunk you if you split an infinitive. And it's true. She would, but she also would tell you what a split infinitive was, and then once you knew, you never did it again. She just opened up to me, how language -- how the written word -- can also sing. And she spent, I remember once, 45 minutes on one page: the first page of a novel. By the end of the class, no one had taken down a single note, because we were absolutely enthralled. It was incredible."
Illinois.edu, Photograph via Virginia.edu