March 30, 2000 Robert Hass to Host "River of Words" Program at the Library of Congress

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-9191
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

Former Poet Laureate Robert Hass returns to the Library of Congress to moderate a program honoring the student winners of the fifth annual River of Words environmental poetry and art contest on Saturday, April 29, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, James Madison Building, at 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The program will feature poetry readings by the winning authors, a display of the winning artworks by their creators, and commentary by Mr. Hass.

The contest, which focuses on the theme of watersheds, is open to students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.

"We are trying to alert kids to the natural world and its connection to artistic expression and the human spirit," said Mr. Hass, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997 and whose 1996 Library of Congress conference, "Watershed: Writers, Nature, and Community," inspired the project.

Mr. Hass and project director Pamela Michaels were the co-founders. The sponsors are the International Rivers Network and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. State centers for the book in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico are participants.

Eight grand prizes, four in poetry and four in art, are awarded. The grand prize winners and one international winner receive a trip to Washington, accompanied by a parent. Each year several thousand young people submit poems and artwork about their own natural surroundings. Mr. Hass selects the poetry winners. The art winners are selected by Germaine Juneau, director of the International Children's Art Museum.

"River of Words has greatly expanded its local partnership and community outreach programs," said project director Ms. Michaels. "Moreover, we offer teacher training workshops, a curriculum kit and help in curriculum design, contest coordination help at the regional level, and local, national, and international media support." For information, see the River of Words Web site: External.

River of Words is supported by contributions from American Way, the magazine of American Airlines; the Witter Bynner Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, the Center for Ecoliteracy, the Library of America, Magnetic Poetry, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Robin and Marsha Williams.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading, and libraries. For information about its projects and those of its affiliated state centers and national reading promotion partners, call the center at (202) 707-5221 or visit its Web site at


PR 00-046
ISSN 0731-3527