Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

January 16, 1996

A Western View: Poets Garrett Hongo and Ishmael Reed To Read at the Library of Congress

On Thursday evening, February 1, poets Garrett Hongo and Ishmael Reed will read from their work in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building. The reading, presented under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, will begin at 6:45 p.m.; Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Robert Hass will introduce the poets. Tickets are not required.

Garrett Hongo is the author of the poetry collections The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99 (1978), Yellow Light (1982), and The River of Heaven (1988). He is the editor of the anthologies The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America (1993) and Under Western Eyes: Personal Essays from Asian America (1995). His most recent book, Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai'i, was published this year. He teaches in the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Ishmael Reed grew up in working-class neighborhoods in Buffalo, New York. He attended the University of Buffalo, which awarded him an honorary doctorate of letters degree in 1995. Author of 15 books, he is a novelist, poet, essayist, television producer, publisher, magazine editor, playwright, radio commentator, and founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, PEN Oakland, and There City Cinema. Two of his books have received National Book Award nominations, and his poetry collection, Conjure (1972,) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has been a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley since 1971. His other collections of poems are Chattanooga (1974), A Secretary to the Spirits (1978), and New and Collected Poems (1989).

The poetry and literature reading series at the Library of Congress is the oldest in the Washington, D.C., area, and among 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 appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The Poetry and Literature Center administers the series and is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when the late 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, 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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PR 96-09
1/16/96
ISSN 0731-3527

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