May 4, 2011 (REVISED May 11, 2011) River of Words Environmental Poetry and Art Contest to Hold Event with Former Winners

Inspiring Stories of How Program Changed Their Lives

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

Two of the winners in 2000 from the River of Words environmental poetry and art contest will return to the Library of Congress in a special program in which they will discuss how the contest changed their lives. “Inspiring Stories from River of Words” will be held on Tuesday, May 10, at 1 p.m. in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, sponsored by the Center for the Book and River of Words ( External), is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

In 2000, El' Jay Johnson of Washington, D.C., who at age 8 won the River of Words Anacostia Watershed Prize (he’s now 19), and Kevin Maher of Lafayette, La., who at age 12 won the National Poetry Grand Prize (he’s now 22), will discuss how being a River of Words winner at such a young age changed each of their lives. Furthermore, the two remember each other. Maher will read two poems, and Johnson will recite his winning poem.

River of Words program director Pamela Michael will talk about the contest, which the Center for the Book has co-sponsored since its founding in 1996 by former Poet Laureate Robert Hass.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.


PR 11-099
ISSN 0731-3527