Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191
September 18, 1997
Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky To Lecture About Digital Culture on October 9 at the Library of Congress
News Conference To Be Held That Morning
The 1997-98 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, Robert Pinsky, will lecture on "Digital Culture and the Individual Soul" on October 9 at 6:45 p.m. in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Mr. Pinsky will discuss "mass art and the increasing efficiency and brilliance of rapidly duplicated images, text and sound by approaching these new cultural developments through the lens of poetry," he said. The lecture marks the beginning of Mr. Pinsky's term as Poet Laureate and opens the fall 1997 literary series at the Library of Congress. Tickets are not required.
Credentialed members of the working press may interview Mr. Pinsky following an informal news conference at 10 a.m. October 9 in the Poetry Office on the attic level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E.
Mr. Pinsky is a professor of English in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University. He is poetry editor of Slate, an on-line magazine, and the author of five books of poetry: Sadness and Happiness(1975); An Explanation of America(1979), awarded the Saxifrage Prize as the year's best volume of poetry from a small or university press; History of My Heart(1983), which won the William Carlos Williams Prize; The Want Bone(1990); and The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996(1996). He is the translator of The Separate Notebooks, by Czeslaw Milosz (1983). His verse translation of The Inferno of Dante(1994) was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, given by the Academy of American Poets. He is also a recipient of the 1996 Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Award. Mr. Pinsky is the author of three collections of essays: Landor's Poetry(1968), The Situation of Poetry(1977) and Poetry and the World (1988). He served as poetry editor of The New Republic during much of the 1980s.
Mr. Pinsky's work has drawn the praise of many. James Longenbach wrote in The Nation that "among the many writers who have come of age in our fin de siecle, none has succeeded more completely as poet, critic and translator than Robert Pinsky.
The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems allows us to recognize the most scrupulously intelligent body of work produced by an American poet in the past twenty-five years." Author Jay Parini described Mr. Pinsky in the Chicago Review as a writer "with a deeply humane sensibility, drawing new water from old wells, but also reaching into areas where nobody would have guessed that poetry could be found. . . . An example of what is best in our current poetry."
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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