August 26, 2010 (REVISED October 5, 2010) Seven U.S. Poets Laureate To Read at Library of Congress on Oct. 6

Reunion to Celebrate Publication of “The Poets Laureate Anthology”

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Patricia Gray (202) 707-1308

Some of the most distinguished voices in American poetry—seven former U. S. Poets Laureate/Consultants in Poetry—will reunite in the historic Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress for a night of poetry on Oct. 6.

The event marks the publication of “The Poets Laureate Anthology,” which brings together for the first time in print a sampling of poems by all of the U.S Poets Laureate/Consultants in Poetry.

The evening, “A Celebration of American Poets Laureate,” which starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, will feature readings by Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Daniel Hoffman, Maxine Kumin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic and Mark Strand, and will be followed by a reception and book-signing.

The program is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. THE EVENT IS SOLD OUT. The Coolidge Auditorium is located in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The Poets Laureate are appointed for a one- or two-year term by the Librarian of Congress. The choice is based on poetic merit alone and has included a wide variety of poetic styles. The position started in 1937 and was then called Consultant in Poetry. In the mid-1980s, a public law changed the title to “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.” A list of the consultants/laureates, with dates served, can be found at

Elizabeth Hun Schmidt, a former poetry editor at the New York Times Book Review, is the editor of “The Poets Laureate Anthology,” which features some of the world’s best-known poems and many new surprises by the 43 poets who have served in the country’s top poetry position. Schmidt teaches American literature at Sarah Lawrence College.

The anthology will be published on Oct. 1 by the Library’s Publishing Office in partnership with W.W. Norton. Copies of the volume will be available for purchase at the event.

The evening program is sponsored by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Office, the Library’s Publishing Office, W. W. Norton and the Poetry Society of America, an organization celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Five other literary events will be held this fall as part of the Poetry and Literature Center’s free public programming:

  • Oct. 19—Poetry at Noon—“Rhode Island Sampler.” State Poet Laureate Lisa Starr brings award-winning Rhode Island poets to read at the Library. The program will also feature Amber Rose Johnson, national champion of the Poetry Out Loud competition, who will perform her winning recitation. The event takes place at noon in the Whittall Pavilion on the ground level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
  • Oct. 25. W.S. Merwin gives his inaugural reading as the current U.S. Poet Laureate at 7 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground level of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Tickets are not required. A reception and book-signing will follow.
  • Nov. 10. The prestigious 2010 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Poetry Award will be presented to an American poet whose book was chosen the best book of poetry in 2008-2009 and/or to a poet for lifetime achievement. The program begins at 8 p.m. in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Tickets are not required.
  • Nov. 16—Poetry at Noon—“Insider/Outsider Experiences.” Guest poets will use poetry to convey what it feels like to be an insider or an outsider. The event is at noon in the Whittall Pavilion in the Thomas Jefferson Building.
  • Dec. 7—Poetry at Noon—“Decade One.” Guest readers reflect on life in the first decade of the 21st century. Audience members will have an opportunity to share their reflections about Decade One during a brief period following the reading. The event is at noon in the Whittall Pavilion in the Thomas Jefferson Building.

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress administers both the noon and the evening series and is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Many of the nation's most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99 194 (Dec. 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.


PR 10-187
ISSN 0731-3527