October 1, 2009 Poet Laureate Kay Ryan Will Launch Community College Poetry Project at Library of Congress Reading on Oct. 21

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

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan will announce a national poetry project that embraces community colleges through an online poetry page “Poetry for the Mind’s Joy” and a poetry-writing contest. The project, in conjunction with the Community College Humanities Association, also designates April 1 as National Poetry Day on Community College Campuses.

The poet laureate will launch her project at the Library of Congress at a reading to open the literary season at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets and reservations are not needed.

Conducting a three-point launch, Ryan will also talk about the project in the Midwest at the Community College Humanities Association conference at the Chicago Renaissance Hotel on Oct. 30 and on the West Coast at the community college Ryan attended, Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, Calif., on Dec. 8.

Ryan has taught remedial English at community colleges for more than 30 years. She is a faculty member at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif.

“I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly—and with very little financial encouragement—saving lives and minds,” said Ryan. “I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle.”

Ryan added, “It is at a community college that a student can progress all the way from learning to read to learning to read poetry. That is, she can get the basic tools she must have to advance in the world and then go on and use them for the mind’s joy. This is a progression that improves both the student and her community every step of the way.”

In early 2010, the Library of Congress will launch Ryan’s webpage “Poetry for the Mind’s Joy” on its poetry pages, which are found at www.loc.gov/poetry/. In January 2010, the Community College Humanities Association will invite community colleges to select the best poem written by a student from that college, which will then be sent to the Library of Congress for possible display on the poetry page.

On April 1, 2010, the National Poetry Day on Community College Campuses will begin with a conference call and live webcast by the Poet Laureate to the campuses. During the call, Ryan will provide an opportunity for students to hear a sampling of her poems and for representatives from a number of campuses to say hello and describe their plans for the day at their campuses and in their communities.

Ryan is the 16th Poet Laureate, and though Poets Laureate don’t necessarily establish a project, several recent ones have done so. Robert Pinsky, who served from 1997 to 2000, initiated the “Favorite Poem Project”; Billy Collins, from 2001 to 2003, started “Poetry 180” for high school students; and Ted Kooser, from 2004 to 2006, established the “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column.

The Community College Humanities Association, founded in 1979, serves faculty and administrators at the nation’s 1,200 community colleges. The association seeks to strengthen the humanities in the nation’s community colleges through its publications, conferences, seminars, workshops, competitions and awards programs. For further information, visit www.ccha-assoc.org.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.


PR 09-193
ISSN 0731-3527