Compiled by Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist
U.S. Poet Laureate, 1991-92 Photograph by Bengt Jangfeldt
On May 10, 1991, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington
appointed Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) the fifth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. As noted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Brodsky "was known for poetry in which he used complex rhythm and meter and extensive word play to address such themes as exile, loss, and death. He also frequently incorporated classical Western mythology and philosophy as well as Judeo-Christian theology into his works."1
Brodsky served one term as poet laureate, finishing his duties in spring 1992. During his term as laureate, Brodsky initiated the idea of providing poetry in public places--supermarkets, hotels, airports, hospitals--where people congregate and "can kill time as time kills them." Shortly after his term ended, Brodsky collaborated with Andrew Carroll to form The American Poetry & Literacy Project, whose mission is to increase American's access to poetry by distributing books in public places. One of the project's first efforts was to distribute free copies of Six American Poets, edited by Joel Conarroe and featuring works by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams to hotels, hospitals, and homeless shelters throughout the United States.
This guide compiles
links to resources on Joseph Brodsky throughout the Library
of Congress Web site, as well as links to external English-language Web sites
that include features on his life or selections
of his work. To suggest additions to this guide, please contact the Digital Reference Section.