April 30, 2002 Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky to Celebrate Poetry in the Public Sphere at the Library of Congress on May 13

Washington D.C. Library Users to Share Favorite Poems

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-5221

Robert Pinsky, Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000, returns to the Library of Congress on Monday, May 13 to host an event celebrating poetry in public life. Sponsored by the Center for the Book, the event will take place at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 13, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E. It is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required.

Mr. Pinsky will introduce several Washington, D.C., library users who will share their favorite poems. He also will show several of the acclaimed Favorite Poem Project video segments recently featured on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.

The program is part of a new initiative, "Strengthening Communities Through the Art of Poetry," which was recently launched by Mr. Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project and its education partner KIDSNET. Funded by a $200,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of America, the "Strengthening Communities" program has distributed materials to 1,500 small or rural public libraries, including affiliates of the Center for the Book in 44 states and the District of Columbia, and to libraries that have received grants from the Viburnum Foundation through the Viburnum/Center for the Book Family Literacy Project.

The materials include a 120-minute video of the best Favorite Poem Project mini- documentaries, a poster and a programming guide, and a copy of the anthology Americans' Favorite Poems (Norton, 2000), edited by Mr. Pinsky and Maggie Dietz. The programming guide offers suggestions for libraries about encouraging civic participation by organizing "Favorite Poem" community readings.

"This is a project for keeping ancient cultural riches vital in our democracy, and America's libraries, our nation's great houses of memory and culture, are crucial to that mission," said Mr. Pinsky.

"Both the Favorite Poem Project and KIDSNET are Center for the Book national reading promotion partners," said John Y. Cole, the center's director. "This new project will open new doors for poetry and for community level participation in the literary arts."

The Favorite Poem Project was launched in 1998 during Robert Pinsky's unprecedented four-year term as U.S. Poet Laureate. Dedicated to the advancement of poetry in American culture, the project has developed a video archive of a diverse cross-section of Americans reading, reciting, and discussing their favorite poems; produced the anthology Americans' Favorite Poems; and hosted or inspired hundreds of favorite poem readings across the country. The project is still accepting online submissions of favorite poems from the general public at www.favoritepoem.org. For more information contact project director Maggie Dietz: telephone (617) 353-2821, fax (617) 353-3653, e-mail, mcdietz@bu.edu.

KIDSNET is a national non-profit resource for children's electronic media. KIDSNET offers an informed guide to educational media for families, educators, and health and social service professionals and develops curriculum materials to support this media. The KIDSNET Web site, at www.kidsnet.org, features a monthly Media Guide, current news about issues affecting children and the media, and archived study guides.

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. For information about its projects and publications and the activities of its affiliates in 46 states and the District of Columbia, consult its Web site: www.loc.gov/cfbook .


PR 02-066
ISSN 0731-3527