Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
May 10, 1995
Library of Congress Publishes Two Lectures by Poet Laureate Rita Dove
The Poet's World, a new Library of Congress publication bringing together the two lectures delivered by 1993-95 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove during her tenure at the Library, has just been published. Ms. Dove closed the Library's 1993-94 literary reading series with a lecture and opened the 1994-95 series with a second, conceiving of the two as an address to a single theme. "Stepping Out: The Poet in the World" and "'A Handful of Inwardness': The World in the Poet" have been brought together in this volume, along with her autobiography, the poem "Lady Freedom Among Us," and photographs documenting her term. The Poet's World is available for $9.50 from the Library of Congress Retail Marketing/Sales Shop, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, DC 20540. Telephone (202) 707-0201.
The second woman in the post since the title "Poet Laureate" was added in 1985 to the title "Consultant in Poetry," Rita Dove received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for her third collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah (1986); her other books of poetry are The Yellow House on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Grace Notes (1989), and Selected Poems (1993). A new collection, Mother Love, has just been published by W. W. Norton. Among her other works are a collection of short stories, a novel, and a verse drama. She is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
During her tenure as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, Ms. Dove brought more than 80 authors to the Library in its reading series, many of them young people. Programs presented during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 literary seasons included a reading by young Crow Indian schoolchildren, a program featuring poetry and jazz, a two-day conference ("Oil on the Waters: The Black Diaspora"), and a reading by young Washington, D.C., poets.
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. 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. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series, plans other special literary events during the reading season, and usually introduces the programs.
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