Three-time Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will appear twice at the Library for the fall literary season; once when he opens the series Oct. 7 at 6:45 p.m. in the Mumford Room, and again on Nov. 10 when he will appear with three special poetry consultants named by Dr. Billington.
On Nov. 10, the Library of Congress will present "Sharing the Gifts: Readings by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; Special Consultants Rita Dove, Louise Glück and W.S. Merwin; and 1999 Witter Bynner Fellows David Gewanter, Campbell McGrath and Heather McHugh." The readings will take place at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. Tickets are not required.
In preparation for the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress in 2000, Dr. Billington in April announced a "once-in-a-century" series of appointments for the Library's poetry program. Mr. Pinsky, the award-winning translator of The Inferno of Dante and a creative writing professor at Boston University, agreed to serve an unprecedented third term as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. In addition, the Librarian has named three Special Consultants to assist with the Bicentennial poetry programs: former Poet Laureate Dove, Ms. Glück, and Mr. Merwin.
The three 1999 Witter Bynner Fellows (Mr. Gewanter, Ms. McGrath and Ms. McHugh) were named by Mr. Pinsky. The Witter Bynner Foundation is providing funding to the Library over a five-year period so that the incumbent Poet Laureate may choose two or more poets each year to receive a fellowship. These fellowships are used to support the writing of poetry. Only two things were asked of the fellows: that they organize a poetry reading in their local areas and that they participate in a poetry reading at the Library of Congress.
The readings were part of the Favorite Poem Project that Mr. Pinsky is spearheading as Poet Laureate. He is currently selecting a broad cross section of Americans reading their favorite poems aloud from the thousands of recordings that have been made across the country. As part of the Library's celebration of its 200th birthday, Mr. Pinsky will present 200 video and 1,000 audio tapes of these Favorite Poem readings to the Library. The presentation will take place during a symposium on the reading, performance and publication of poetry in the 19th and 20th centuries on April 3-4, 2000. These readings will augment the existing Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, which has recordings of 2,000 poets and authors reading their work. Among them are Robert Penn Warren, Robert Frost, Maxine Kumin and Gwendolyn Brooks. The Favorite Poem tapes of everyday people reading their favorite poems will be one of the Library's Bicentennial birthday "Gifts to the Nation." The Library will be 200 on April 24, 2000.
The Poetry and Literature Center, which administers the poetry series is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when the late philanthropist Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress. Archibald MacLeish, who was Librarian from 1939 to 1944, determined the Consultant in Poetry should be an annual appointment. Since then, many of the nation's most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 in 1985, as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
Interpreting services (American Sign Language, Contact Signing, Oral and/or Tactile) will be provided if requested five business days in advance of the reading. Call (202) 707-6362 TTY and voice to make a specific request. For other ADA accommodations, contact the Disability Employment office at (202) 707-9948 TTY and (202) 707-7544 voice.