Press contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public contact: Poetry Office (202) 707-5394
September 25, 2000
Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz to Read at the Library of Congress
Stanley Kunitz, the Library's newly-named Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2000-2001, will open the year's evening literary series with a reading from his work on Thursday, October 12. The program will take place in the Montpelier Room, sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are not required.
Stanley Kunitz, who occupied the Chair of Poetry at the Library in 1974 through 1976 as Consultant in Poetry (before the title was changed to "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry" with the passage in 1985 of PL 99-194), was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. His ten books of poetry include Collected Poems (W. W. Norton, fall 2000), Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected (W. W. Norton, 1995), which won the National Book Award; Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays (1985); The Poems of Stanley Kunitz, 1928-1978, which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Testing-Tree (1971); and Intellectual Things (1930). He also co-translated Orchard Lamps by Ivan Drach (1978), Story under Full Sail by Andrei Voznesensky (1974), and Poems of Akhmatova (1973), and edited The Essential Blake (1987), Poems of John Keats (1964), and The Yale Series of Younger Poets (1969-77).
His other honors include the National Medal of the Arts (presented to him by President Clinton in 1993), the Bollingen Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, Harvard's Centennial Medal, the Levinson Prize, the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, a senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Shelley Memorial Award. He was designated State Poet of New York, and is a Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets. A founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Poets House in New York City, he taught for many years in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. He lives in New York City and in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Two additional programs will be presented in the fall half of the literary season: On November 2, a talk by Jeffery Paine, the editor of the new HarperCollins anthology, The Poetry of Our World: An International Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Montpelier Room, 6:45 p.m.); and, on December 7, a reading by the soon-to-be-announced winner of the 2000 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry (Montpelier Room, 8:00 p.m.). Spring 2001 will offer many additional readings to round out the 2000-2001 literary series.
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 which 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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