CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Two Virginia poets recently received an award for their work from the Poetry Foundation, an American literary society that celebrates poets and their work.

Rita Dove and Nikki Giovanni have been named recipients of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

The award honors a living U.S. poet whose accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition. It is also one of the most prestigious awards a poet can receive.

"If you're going to be a writer, you have to realize, nobody is going to know who you are or that your work is really great for about 100 years, and you'll be dead, so don't worry about that. What you want to do is give your best work and give work that pleases you and to remember that you are your first reader," said Giovanni.

Giovanni's works grew out of her response to the assassinations of such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, and the pressing need she saw to raise awareness of the rights of Black people. She has also been named one of Oprah Winfrey's 25 Living Legends.

Dove was the youngest and the first African-American ever elected to the position of the U.S. Poet Laureate in 1993.

She is currently a professor of English at the University of Virginia.