May 1, 2007 Poet Robert Hass To Host River of Words Ceremony on May 15

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302

Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate, returns to the Library of Congress to moderate a program honoring the student winners of the annual River of Words environmental poetry and art contest at 10 a.m. on Tuesday May 15, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, S.E. in Washington, D.C.

The event, which celebrates National Poetry Month, is free and open to the public; no reservations or tickets are needed. The event is hosted by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, a River of Words co-sponsor.

Young poets and artists, in kindergarten through grade 12, will read their poems, display their winning works of art and talk with Hass about their work. Linda Cover of Watsonsville, Calif., the 2007 River of Words Teacher of the Year, will also receive an award.

The ceremony, which honors winners and their families, will include award presentations in six categories:

  • International Award: Javish Mutembei, 19, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Poetry Grand Prizes: Jose Perez, 7, Sarasota, Fla; Shyann Graham, 11, Lancaster, Pa.; Maddy Johnson, 14, Bar Harbor, Maine; Billy Creed, 18, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Art Grand Prizes: Jakob Langholz, 8, Royal Oaks, Calif.; David Kwok, 8, Westmont, Ill.; Edward Yang, 14, Westmont, Ill.; Loren Kim, 15, Fairfax Station, Va.
  • Monkey’s Raincoat Haiku Prize: Ashley Lopez, 10, Paramount, Calif.
  • Shasta Bioregion Prize: (honoring a San Francisco area student): Rachael Kim, 16, Saratoga, Calif.
  • Anacostia Watershed Prize: (honoring a Washington, D.C., area student): Olivia Coleman, 12, Bowie, Md.

Hass and writer Pamela Michael co-founded River of Words to promote literacy, the arts and environmental awareness. Hass has said, “It’s thrilling to see, year after year, these young writers and artists giving us back the places where we live through their words and images. Through their explorations and reflection on their homegrounds, we are all made more aware of the beauty, history and fragility of our natural landscapes.”

Hass was named U.S. Poet Laureate by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in 1995 and served two terms. In April 1996, he organized a weeklong conference at the Library on “Watershed: Writers, Nature and Community,” where the first River of Words winners were honored. River of Words is now the largest youth poetry competition in the world.

For further information about the competition and educational opportunities offered by River of Words for teachers, students and local communities, call (510) 548-7636 or visit


PR 07-101
ISSN 0731-3527