By ERIN ALLEN
On March 1, the Library of Congress announced that Paul Simon would be the first recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Several outlets ran news of the announcement, including the The Washington Post, Variety, The Washington Times, Washingtonian, GW Hatchet, Washington City Paper, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, USA Today, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Premiere Radio Network, WENN Entertainment News, Billboard, VNU Entertainment News, National Post in Canada, International Herald Tribune, CBC News, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, UPI, Reuters, Voice of America News, National Journal, Hindustan Times, Jazz News, Harp Magazine, Paste Magazine, FMQB Magazine, British magazines NME and Uncut, Web sites cinemablend.com, dailyindia.com, therockradio.com, livedaily.com, hollywoodreporter.com, bmi.com, thecelebritycafe.com and the blog jewtastic.
In a story on May 18, Richard Harrington of The Washington Post interviewed Simon and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington regarding the Gershwin Prize and Simon's contribution to popular music.
Billington said, "Paul Simon's contribution has been very special and deserving of recognition, as indicated by the quality of people coming to this event …. as our first designee, we made it clear that real musical craftsmanship is involved, as well as a lifetime of achievement, continued growth and diversification."
Of the performers scheduled to honor him in the May 23 concert, Simon said, "From a songwriter's perspective, it's a dream come true, really, to have that many gifted people … do a version of one of your songs."
The same day that Harrington's story ran, ABC News with Charles Gibson recognized Simon as its Person of the Week. Gibson said, "The Library of Congress is honoring the depth, range and beauty of his music and his ability to bridge musical cultures, as Simon pairs contagious melodies with the layered lines of a poet."
Many outlets ran coverage of the May 23 concert, including the Dallas Morning News, Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., Leader-Post in Canada, Cincinnati Post, Roll Call, USA Radio Network News, rollingstone.com and cnn.com.
The Library marked its 207th birthday on April 24 by launching its first blog. Moderated by Director of Communications Matt Raymond, the Library's blog (www.loc.gov/blog/) is among the first by a federal agency to join the blogosphere. Taking note of this milestone were outlets such as Government Computer News, Managing Information, and Library Journal, as well as blogs such as dcblogs, libsite, beltway blogroll, American Historical Association, One Big Library and RSS4Lib.
The day after the launch, Roll Call featured a story by Andrea Kemp, who discussed with Raymond why the Library chose to embrace this growing trend. Raymond called the blog "a necessary step into the future" and said, "Even though the Library is a historic 207-year-old institution, to stay relevant we have to adapt with new technologies and new media."
The Library took another monumental step, this time along cultural lines, by putting together a trans-Atlantic meeting of the minds featuring American poet laureate Donald Hall and British poet laureate Andrew Motion. The May 10 joint reading, co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the Poetry Society, was the second in the "Poetry Across the Atlantic" initiative, which aims to reintroduce the poetry of the United States and the United Kingdom to each other.
Bree Hocking of Roll Call met with the two poets a few days before the big event. She said, "At first glance, Hall and Motion appear to cut remarkably different figures." However, she went on to enumerate the links between them: Both attended Oxford University, both have produced prose work and both use rural themes in much of their poetry.
In Bob Thompson's article on the joint reading, which appeared in the The Washington Post, he focused on the poets' discussion of why the two countries "drew apart." Motion told the American audience that it probably had something to do with "the way you guys received modernism and embraced it and the way that we received it and didn't."
Similarly, Elizabeth Kelleher's article for USINFO touched on the "divorce" of the two countries' literati. Both poets agreed that until the 1960s, to be interested in the poetry of one country was to be interested in the poetry of the other.
Another historical event at the Library that strengthened trans-Atlantic ties was the formal presentation by German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the 1507 Waldseemüller map (See story on page 128.) Recognizing the occasion were outlets such as CBS-TV, C-Span, Associated Press, The Washington Times, Science magazine, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, Myrtle Beach Sun-News, San Antonio Express-News, Deutschland magazine, washingtonpost.com, The Capital in Annapolis, Md., and Voice of America News.
Erin Allen is a writer-editor in the Library's Public Affairs Office.