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

March 12, 1996

First Annual National Poetry Month To Be Observed at the Library of Congress

On Tuesday evening, April 9, former Poets Laureates Rita Dove, Anthony Hecht, and Mark Strand, along with Carolyn Forche, Linda Pastan, and Charles Wright will read from their work in the Northwest Curtain, Second floor, Great Hall, Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E. The reading, presented by the Academy of American Poets with support from the Library's Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, will begin at 6:45 p.m.; tickets are not required. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Robert Hass will introduce the poets.

A reception acknowledging the critical service provided by Washington-area bookstores will follow the reading in the Great Hall on the first floor of the Jefferson Building. Staff members of local bookstores will be specially invited to this reception, to which the audience is also welcome.

The Academy of American Poets has joined with the Library of Congress and with publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, educators, and poets across the country to establish April as National Poetry Month. Founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry, the Academy of American Poets sponsors programs nationally and administers many prestigious awards for poets. The Academy expects several thousand organizations across the country to participate in National Poetry Month through readings, book displays, festivals, workshops, and special classroom projects.

Poet Laureate Robert Hass has said, "National Poetry Month is a wonderful way to celebrate the richness of the voices in our midst. 'So many uttering tongues,' as Walt Whitman said."

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.

Interpreting services (American Sign Language, Contact Signing, Oral and Tactile) will be provided if requested five business days in advance of the event. Call (202) 707-6362 TTY and voice to make a specific request. For other ADA accommodations please contact the Disability Employment Program office at (202) 707-9948 TTY and (202) 707-7544 voice.

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PR 96-43
ISSN 0731-3527

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