June 3, 2016 Library Symposium to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Casper (202) 707-5394

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Black Arts Movement and the 20th anniversary of the literary organization Cave Canem with a day-long symposium.

“From the Black Arts Movement to Cave Canem” will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, June 13, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. A private master class in children’s literature is slated for the morning, but two afternoon panel discussions are free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

The symposium is held in conjunction with an evening program at the Folger Shakespeare Theater, 201 E. Capitol St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Both events are supported by the Library of Congress, Cave Canem Foundation, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s O. B. Hardison Poetry Series, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and We Need Diverse Books™. For more information about the evening lineup, visit this site External.

“The Poetry and Literature Center is proud to sponsor this symposium celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Black Arts Movement and its influence on African-American literature. Together, with our wealth of presenting partners, we take this moment to champion the essential contributions African-American poets and writers have made, and will continue to make, to our country,” said Robert Casper, head of the center.

The Black Arts Movement was conceived of and promoted by Amiri Baraka in the mid-1960s. Its constellation of writers, performers and artists included Nikki Giovanni, Jay Wright, Larry Neal and Sonia Sanchez. Its practitioners were energized by a desire to introduce an African-American cultural identity. The movement helped organize hundreds of Afrocentric repertory theater companies, public art projects and publishing ventures throughout the United States.

Afternoon Schedule

Panel One: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“Writing Across Genre,” featuring Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Tony Medina and Marilyn Nelson and moderated by Marita Golden.

Panel Two: 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“Organizing Founders,” featuring Michael Datcher, Toi Derricotte and Sharan Strange and moderated by Joanne Gabbin.

Founded in 1996 by poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, Cave Canem Foundation is a home for the many voices of African-American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African-American poets. The organization’s programs include an annual week-long retreat, three book prizes delivered in collaboration with five prestigious presses, community-based writing workshops, a lecture series and more.

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s O. B. Hardison Poetry Series, for the past 47 seasons, has brought some of the best writers and speakers to the Folger stage. From traditional poetry readings to multimedia presentations to eclectic combinations of lecture, conversation and performance, the series is committed to expanding the contexts in which poetry is experienced.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is committed to building audiences for literature and bringing writers together with their readers. The foundation supports public readings by distinguished writers; the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, which is the largest peer-juried award for fiction in the United States; the PEN/Malamud Award, honoring excellence in the short story; and the Writers in Schools program, bringing acclaimed authors to public high school classrooms in Washington and Baltimore to discuss their work with students.

We Need Diverse Books ™ is a grassroots organization of children’s books lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature to reflect and honor the lives of all young people.

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public's appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed poetry chair (the U.S. Poet Laureate) and coordinates an annual literary season of poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, sponsored by the Library's Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund. For more information, visit loc.gov/poetry/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States and extensive materials from around the world, both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 16-104
ISSN 0731-3527