September 24, 2008 Library of Congress Announces Fall 2008 Literary Season

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Patricia Gray (202) 707-5394/5

The Library of Congress fall literary season, which will open on Oct. 16 with a reading by Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Kay Ryan, will also include a poetry reading on Oct. 23 by poets Jane Shore and Dabney Stuart and a lecture by poet and critic James Longenbach on Nov. 20. All the events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at 6:45 p.m. in the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The Oct. 16 reading will be in the Mumford Room and the Oct. 23 and Nov. 20 events will be in the Montpelier Room; both rooms are on the sixth floor of the Madison Building. Book signings will follow each of the events. No tickets or reservations are needed. Ryan, who was appointed to the laureateship by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in July, is the author of six books of poetry. Her latest book is “The Niagara River” (2005). Shore is professor of English at George Washington University and the author of “A Yes-or-No Answer” and “Happy Family.” Stuart, who is an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University and a former editor of Shenandoah Magazine, is the author of “Family Preserve” and “The Man Who Loves Cezanne.” Longenbach will present a lecture titled “Poem, Prose, Prose-Poem: Two and a Half Definitions.” Patricia Gray, head of the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center, said “Longenbach will go out on a limb to define the boundaries between genres. His topic had everyone talking for hours after he gave it at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in August 2006.” Longenbach is professor of English at the University of Rochester, and the author of “The Resistance to Poetry,” “The Art of the Poetic Line” and several collections of poems, including “Draft of a Letter.” The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress administers the poetry series, which began in the 1940s and is the oldest in the Washington area and among the oldest in the United States. The readings and lectures are free and have been largely supported since 1951 by a gift from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall. The center is also the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when the late Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress. Since then, more than 40 of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as either Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress or, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 in 1985, as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series and plans other special literary events during the reading season. For more information, visit


PR 08-175
ISSN 0731-3527