April 15, 2009 Poet Laureate Kay Ryan Closes Library of Congress Literary Season on May 7 in Coolidge Auditorium
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Patricia Gray (202) 707-5394
U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan will conclude the Library of Congress 2008-2009 literary season with a poetry reading in the historic Coolidge Auditorium, where past consultants/laureates – such as Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Hayden – have read.
Ryan will read at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, in the Coolidge, on the ground level of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center, the reading is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.
The Coolidge was selected as the venue, because Ryan’s reading to open the literary season at the Library last fall drew more than 300 visitors, a standing-room-only crowd for the Mumford Room in the James Madison Building.
Patricia Gray, head of the Poetry and Literature Center, said, “We want to be sure to accommodate everyone on May 7. Not everyone could find a seat last fall. Plus many people in Washington remember those past poetry readings in the Coolidge as grand events and asked us to hold some poetry programs there again.”
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington recently announced that Ryan will return to the Library in the fall to serve a second term as Poet Laureate, for the 2009-2010 literary season.
The Coolidge Auditorium, built in 1925, is the original home of the Library literary-season readings. The 500-seat auditorium is considered one of the finest acoustic spaces in the world and has played host to the Juilliard String Quartet and many other distinguished musical groups. Also, in April 2005, Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and songwriter-composer John Prine appeared onstage together at the Coolidge to discuss the poetry in writing lyrics. In May 2006, in the first-ever joint reading of the U.S. and British poets laureate, America’s Donald Hall and England’s Andrew Motion read together at the Coolidge, creating another historic event there.
The Coolidge Auditorium was renovated in 1997, preserving its classic architecture while creating the latest, state-of-the-art audio and recording venue.
To view a video invitation to the reading from Kay Ryan, visit www.loc.gov/poetry/avfiles/Kay_Ryan_invitation.ram.
The Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division holds recordings of the poets who have read in the Coolidge Auditorium.
The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress is 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. 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 www.loc.gov/poetry/.