April 7, 2006 Poet Robert Hass to Host River of Words Ceremony April 22

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass returns to the Library of Congress to moderate a program honoring the student winners of the 10th annual River of Words environmental poetry and art contest at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, in the Montpelier Room, sixth floor, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. in Washington, D.C.

The event, which celebrates National Poetry Month and Earth Day, is free and open to the public; no reservations are required. The Library’s Center for the Book is hosting the program.

Young poets and artists, in kindergarten through 12th grade from around the country, will read their poems, display their winning works of art and talk with Hass about their work. Connie McDonald, the River of Words Teacher of the Year, also will be honored. She teaches at the Louisiana State Lab School in Baton Rouge.

The ceremony, which honors the winners and their families, will include the presentation of awards in four categories:

  • International Award: Leung Man Wai, 11, Hong Kong, China
  • Poetry Grand Prizes: Avery Forsythe, 8, Crested Butte, Colo.; Devin Felter, 12, New Windsor, N.Y.; Audrey Larkin, 12, San Francisco, Calif;
  • Diana Chien, 17, Holmdel, N.J.
  • Art Grand Prizes: Keeley Christiansen, 6, Watsonville, Calif.; Kieran McElvaney, 9, Marietta, Ga.; You Na Park, 15, Lorton, Va.; John Dixon,
  • 17, Hollister, Calif.
  • Monkey’s Raincoat Haiku Prize: Clay McMullen, 11, Chesterfield, Ohio

Hass and writer Pamela Michael founded River of Words in 1995 to promote literacy, the arts and environmental awareness. Hass said, “Our goal is to help children fall in love with the earth.”

Hass was named U.S. Poet Laureate by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in 1995 and served two terms. In April 1996, Hass organized a weeklong conference at the Library of Congress on “Watershed: Writers, Nature and Community,” and the first River of Words winners were honored at the gathering. The Center for the Book became a partner in 1998.

A nonprofit organization, River of Words offers a wide range of educational opportunities for teachers and students, as well as local partnership and community outreach programs, publications and exhibitions. “We help children become informed, engaged and inspired citizens of the places they live,” said co-founder Michael. River of Words recently opened one of the first art galleries in the country devoted to children’s art. More than 50 paintings by this year’s contest winners will be displayed at the gallery in Berkeley, Calif., in June. For further details call (510) 548-7636 or visit www.riverofwords.org.

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. For information about its activities and those of its affiliated state centers and national reading promotion partners, visit www.loc.gov/cfbook.


PR 06-082
ISSN 0731-3527