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February 25, 2000

Poetry in America: A Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration To Be Held at the Library of Congress, April 3-4

Poetry in America: A Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration will be held at the Library of Congress on Monday and Tuesday, April 3 and 4. The event is sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America, with additional support from Borders Books and LIVE at the Library 2000, a joint project of the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Arts. All events are free and open to the public.

The celebration begins on Monday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. (please note earlier starting time) in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. with readings of favorite poems by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; Rita Dove, Louise Glück, and W.S. Merwin, who are serving as Bicentennial Consultant Poets; and Witter Bynner Fellows Joshua Weiner and Naomi Shihab Nye.

Mr. Pinsky also will present the first video and audio recordings to the Library's Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature from the Favorite Poem project, a program that has documented thousands of people reciting their favorite poems. Selections from the project will be played. This program will be cybercast live at the Library's Web site at www.loc.gov/loc/cyberlc.

On Tuesday, April 4, a symposium will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Mumford Room, Sixth Floor, Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., titled Poetry and the American People: Reading, Voice, and Publication in the 19th and 20th Centuries (See schedule below), followed at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Jefferson Building with Robert Pinsky reading from his translation of Dante's Inferno and W.S. Merwin reading from his translation of Purgatorio.

Robert Pinsky, 1997-2000 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library, is the author of five books of poetry: The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996), which won the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a Pulitzer Prize nominee; The Want Bone (1990); History of My Heart (1984); An Explanation of America (1980); and Sadness and Happiness (1975). In 1999 he co-edited, with Maggie Dietz, Americans Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology. He has also published four books of criticism, including The Sounds of Poetry (1998); Poetry and the World (1988), and The Situation of Poetry (1977); two books of translation: The Inferno of Dante (1994), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, and The Separate Notebooks by Czeslaw Milosz (with Renata Gorczynski and Robert Hass); and a computerized novel, Mindwheel (1985). His honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, Poetry magazines Oscar Blumenthal prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He is poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate. Mr. Pinsky teaches in the creative writing program at Boston University.

Rita Dove, who was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1993-95, is on the faculty of the University of Virginia. Her books of poetry include On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Mother Love (1995); Selected Poems (1993); Grace Notes (1989); Thomas and Beulah (1987), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; Museum (1983); and The Yellow House on the Corner (1980). She has also published Fifth Sunday (1985), a book of short stories; Through the Ivory Gate (1992), a novel; and The Darker Face of the Earth (1994), a verse drama. Her many honors include the Academy of American Poets Lavan Younger Poets Award, a Mellon Foundation grant, an NAACP Great American Artist Award, Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, and grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ms. Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Louise Glück, a recipient of the Library's Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, teaches at Williams College and is the author of eight books of poetry, including Vita Nova (1999); The Wild Iris (1992), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of Americas William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), for which she received the Bobbitt Prize; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of Americas Melville Kane Award. She has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her other honors include the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and from the National Endowment for the Arts. Louise Glück lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1999 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

W.S. Merwin is the author of more than 15 books of poetry, including The River Sound (1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Flower and Hand: Poems 1977-1983 (1997); The Vixen (1996); Travels (1993), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Second Four Books of Poems (1993); The Rain in the Trees (1988); Selected Poems (1988); The Carrier of Ladders (1970), which received the Pulitzer Prize; The Lice (1967); and A Mask for Janus (1952), which was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has also published many plays, nearly 20 books of translation, and four books of prose, including The Lost Upland (1992), his memoir of life in the south of France. Mr. Merwin's many honors include the Bollingen Prize, the Governors Award for Literature of the State of Hawaii, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the PEN Translation Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the first Tanning Prize of the Academy of American Poets, and a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Writers Award. He is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and recently began a five-year term as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

Witter Bynner Fellow for 2000, Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. She received her B.A. degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she continues to reside. She is the author of Hugging the Jukebox (1982), Red Suitcase (1994), and Fuel (1998). A new collection of her poems, Come with Me, will be published this year.

Witter Bynner Fellow for 2000, Joshua Weiner, who received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, was director of the Writing Program at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work center and now teaches at Northwestern University. He has published poems in many literary journals, and his first book of poetry will be published in the Phoenix Poetry Series of the University of Chicago Press.

SCHEDULE
Poetry in America: A Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration

Monday, April 3

7:30 p.m.
Poetry in America: Favorite Poems
Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson Building

Readings of favorite poems by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Bicentennial Consultant Poets Rita Dove, Louise Glück, and W.S. Merwin, and Witter Bynner Fellows Joshua Weiner and Naomi Shihab Nye

Presentation and screening of the first video and audio recordings from the Favorite Poem Project. Cybercast live at www.loc.gov/bicentennial/programs.html.

Tuesday, April 4
Poetry and the American People: Reading, Voice, and Publication in the 19th and 20th Centuries

A symposium. All day in the Mumford Room of the Madison Building.

8:45 - 10:15 a.m.
Recovering the Experiences of American Readers
Moderator: John Y. Cole, Library of Congress
David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School
Barbara Sicherman, Trinity College
Joan Shelley Rubin, Department of History, University of Rochester

10:30 a.m. - noon
Poetry and Voice
Moderator: Prosser Gifford, Library of Congress
Kenneth Cmiel, Department of History, University of Iowa
Paul Breslin, Department of English, Northwestern University
Robert Pinsky, Poet Laureate, Library of Congress

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
The Making of the Favorite Poem Project and Tapes
Moderator: Prosser Gifford, Library of Congress
Robert Pinsky; Maggie Dietz, project director; and Juanita Anderson, executive producer

2:45 - 4:15 p.m.
Poets and Publishers
Moderator: John Y. Cole, Library of Congress
Jerry W. Ward, Tougaloo College
Robert Boyers, editor, Salmagundi
Leslie Morris, Harvard College Library

4:30 - 6 p.m.
Poetry in America Today
Joshua Weiner, Naomi Shihab Nye, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove, Louise Glück, W.S. Merwin and symposium participants

8 p.m.
Dante's The Divine Comedy
Introduction: His Excellency Ambassador Ferdinando Salleo of Italy Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson Building

Robert Pinsky reading from his translation of Inferno
W.S. Merwin reading from his translation of Purgatorio

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PR 00-019
2/24/00
ISSN 0731-3527

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