The Library of Congress Spring 2008 Literary Season will include poetry readings by U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic and six other distinguished poets; the presentation of the Witter Bynner Poetry Fellowships in March; and the 2008 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry in April during National Poetry Month.
The readings will be Thursday, Feb. 7
, with poets Li-Young Lee and David Kirby; Thursday, March 27
, with Rodney Jones and Ellen Bryant Voigt; Thursday, April 24
, with Charles Wright and former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand; and Thursday, May 8
, with Simic, who will also attend the March 27 and April 24 readings to introduce the poets.
On Thursday, March 6
, Simic will present $10,000 Witter Bynner Poetry Fellowships to two poets of his selection, and the award winners will read from their work. The readings and award ceremony will begin at 6:45 p.m
. in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The events are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.
In April, National Poetry Month, at a date and time to be announced, the 2008 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry will be awarded and the recipient will read selections of his or her work. The biennial $10,000 prize recognizes a book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years, or the lifetime achievement of an American poet. The prize is donated by the family of the late Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, a sister of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
On Feb. 7, Li-Young Lee and David Kirby will open the season. Lee’s long-awaited fourth book of poetry, “Behind My Eyes,” will be released by W.W. Norton two weeks prior to the reading. Lee, who lives in Chicago, has taught at various universities including Northwestern and the University of Iowa. Kirby, author of the forthcoming “The Temple Gate Called Beautiful” (April 2008), teaches at Florida State University, where he served as Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor for 2003-2004.
On March 27, Rodney Jones and Ellen Bryant Voigt will read. Jones is the author of “Kingdom of the Instant: Poems” (2004) and received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in 2007. He teaches at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Voigt’s most recent poetry volume is “Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006” (2007). She lives in Vermont and is credited with developing the first low-residency master of fine arts program at Goddard College in Vermont, which allows talented writers to complete a large portion of the MFA degree course work off-campus.
On April 24, Mark Strand and Charles Wright will read. Strand served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1990 to 1991 and is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently “New Selected Poems” (2007). Wright’s most recent collection “Scar Tissue” (2006) was the international winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize. Wright is the Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
On May 8, the last event of the literary season, U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic will read from his works of poetry or present a lecture.
For further information about the Library of Congress literary season and the poetry awards, please visit www.loc.gov/poetry/