September 3, 2010 New Poetry Anthology Features Works by the Poets Laureate

Oct. 6 Public Poetry Event Celebrates New Publication

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer, Library of Congress (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Melissa Whitley, W.W. Norton, (212) 790-9407

Since 1937, the Librarian of Congress has periodically appointed a Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry who aims to raise the public’s appreciation for poetry.

Works by each of the 43 poets who have held the country’s top poetry position have been compiled in “The Poets Laureate Anthology,” a new volume published by the Library of Congress in cooperation with W.W. Norton. This groundbreaking work, full of some of the world’s best-known poems and many new surprises, charts the course of American poetry over the past 75 years.

Elizabeth Hun Schmidt, a former poetry editor at The New York Times Book Review and professor of American literature at Sarah Lawrence College gathered the works included in the new anthology. Schmidt’s spirited introductions place the poets and their poems in historical, literary context, and shine light on the interesting and often uneasy relationship between politics and art. This is an inviting, monumental collection for every library, containing much of the best poetry written in America during the past eight decades.

To mark the publication of the new anthology, eight former U. S. Poets Laureate/Consultants in Poetry will reunite at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6 in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, located in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, “A Celebration of American Poets Laureate,” will feature readings by Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Daniel Hoffman, Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic and Mark Strand, and will be followed by a reception and book-signing.

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.

The program is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets may be ordered from Ticketmaster for a small handling fee. There is a limit of two tickets per person. Contact External or phone (202) 397-7328 or (703) 573-7328.

A second event to mark the publication of “The Poets Laureate Anthology” will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12 in Cooper Union’s Great Hall, 7 East 7th Street at 3rd Ave., New York City. This event, “100 Years of American Poetry, 1910-2010,” will be sponsored jointly by the Library of Congress and the Poetry Society of America and will feature U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Louise Glück, Donald Hall, Daniel Hoffman, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan and Charles Simic. The program is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

“The Poets Laureate Anthology,” an 816-page hardback book, is available for $39.95 from the Library of Congress Sales Shop -- or by calling (888) 682-3557. It is also available in bookstores nationwide and online.

The Poets Laureate are appointed for one- or two-year terms 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

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library 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 and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at


PR 10-192
ISSN 0731-3527