About Poetry at Noon
Poetry at Noon is a popular reading series that began in 1993 with a "Love Poems" reading for Valentine's Day and has continued to this day. Designed by the poet, Patricia Gray, the series usually features three guest poets who read not only their own work, but also work by other poets, living or dead, classical or contemporary, on the theme for the reading. The idea behind Poetry at Noon (PAN) was to interest people who do not usually attend poetry readings to come because of their interest in the theme. Some of the other themes have been, "Poems for Weddings," "Spirits and the Supernatural," "Home and Hearth," "Urban Life," etc. The readings occur irregularly during the year; however, they are usually held on Tuesdays in the Whittall Pavilion of the Jefferson Building. Guidelines for submissions to read in the PAN program are posted the last week in May of each year.
Since they began, the noon poetry readings have gained in popularity. Guest poets have come from as far away as California, Canada, and Arizona to participate, and the themes have drawn widely divergent audiences, ranging in age from preschoolers to senior citizens. Generally, the audience consists of Capitol Hill staffers, people who live within driving distance of the Library, school groups, tourists, and others who love literature. The series offers access to poetry for those unable to come to the Library's evening poetry events, and features nationally known poets as well as poets who have not published books. The only criterion is excellence. The Poetry at Noon series offers a brief lunchtime respite from fast-breaking events in Washington, D.C., and the Library setting provides a serene place in which art and scholarship can combine to enhance human understanding. Poetry at Noon also contributes to the art and creativity aspects of the New Visitors Experience at the Library of Congress.