April 20, 2001 Poets Sterling Brown and Gwendolyn Brooks to be Honored at Student Poetry Reading

An Event Celebrating National Poetry Month, Young People's Poetry Week, and Sterling Brown's Centenary

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: Jennifer Rutland (202) 707-5395

On Thursday evening, April 26, at 6:45 p.m., "Young Voices from the Nation's Capital," a poetry reading by Washington, D.C., public school students, will take place in the Library's Montpelier Room on the 6th floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence S.E.. The program is free and open to the public.

The evening includes special tributes to Sterling A. Brown, the first Poet Laureate of Washington, D.C.; and Gwendolyn Brooks, who was Consultant in Poetry (the same position which is now Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry) at the Library of Congress in 1985-86. Ms. Brooks died earlier this year.

This community program celebrates National Poetry Month and Young People's Poetry Week. It features special guests and presenters Dolores Kendrick, current Poet Laureate of Washington, D.C.; Molly Raphael, Director of the D.C. Public Library System; poets Sydney March and Donna Denize; and the students reading their own poems.

Students and presenters will also read selections from the works of Sterling A. Brown and Gwendolyn Brooks. Sterling Brown, who was born in Washington, D.C., taught at Howard University for 40 years and served as the first Poet Laureate of Washington, D.C., until his death in 1989. His use of blues and jazz rhythms and the cadences of everyday speech were major innovative influences in the development of African-American literature. This tribute marks 100 years since his birth in 1901.

Gwendolyn Brooks's poems have a major following among children and adults alike. Her trademark poem, "We Real Cool," is often embraced by students and recognized by adults who have had little exposure to poetry.

A reception follows the program. "Young Voices from the Nation's Capital," celebrating, as it does, Washington, D.C.'s past and present, extending from Sterling Brown's early days to today's young students, provides an opportunity for parents and children to experience and enjoy poetry together.

The program is co-sponsored by the Library's Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, the District Lines Poetry Project of the Federation of Friends of the D.C. Public Library, the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C., and the Washington, D.C., Center for the Book.


PR 01-067
ISSN 0731-3527