Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
January 25, 1995
Poets Nina Cassian and Sandra Cisneros To Read at the Library of Congress
On Thursday, February 16, poets Nina Cassian and Sandra Cisneros will read from their work in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE. The reading is presented under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall poetry and Literature Fund, and will begin at 6:45 p.m.; Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove will introduce the poets. Tickets are not required.
Nina Cassian, born in 1924 in Galati, Romania, has published more than 50 books, including works of fiction and books for children. She is also a classical music composer, journalist, film critic, and translator of Shakespeare, Bertolt Brecht, Christian Morgenstern, Iannis Ritsos, and Paul Clan. While she was a visiting professor at New York University in 1985, a friend in Romania was arrested and his diary confiscated by the authorities. Ms. Cassian learned that she had been named in this document. Her friend's subsequent death by torture convinced Ms. Cassian that she could not return to her homeland. A volume of her selected poems, Life Sentence, was published recently by W. W. Norton; edited by William Jay Smith, it spans her 45-year writing career. Among the translators of the work in this collection are Stanley Kunitz, Richard Wilbur, Carolyn Kizer, Dana Gioia, and Mr. Smith.
Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954 and educated in the Midwest. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Bad Boys (1980) and My Wicked Wicked Ways (Third Woman, 1987/Random House, 1992) and two books of fiction, The House on Mango Street (Vintage, 1991) and Woman Hollering Creek (Random House, 1991), which won the PEN Center West Award for Best Fiction of 1991, the Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Lannan Foundation Literary Award. This year Alfred A. Knopf will publish her first children's book, Hairs/Pelitos; a 10th-anniversary hardback edition of The House on Mango Street; a U.S. edition of The House on Mango Street translated into Spanish; and a collection of her poetry, Loose Woman. She is now at work on a novel, Caramelo. Ms. Cisneros's other awards and honors include two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships (1982, 1988); an artist residency at the Foundation Michael Karoly, Vence, France (1983); the Texas Institute of Letters Dobie-Paisano Fellowship (1984); the Before Columbus American Book Award (1985); and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the State University of New York at Purchase (1993).
Ms. Cisneros has taught as a visiting professor at California State University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Irvine, the University of Michigan, and the University of New Mexico. She is a volunteer lecturer at schools in the San Antonio area, where she now lives.
The poetry and literature reading series at the Library of Congress is the oldest in the Washington area, and one of the oldest in the United States. This annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, and occasional dramatic performances began in the 1940s and has been almost exclusively supported since 1951 by a gift from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who wanted to bring the enjoyment and appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The Poetry and Literature Center, which administers the series, is also 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.
# # #