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Visions of Poets

Listening to a poet reading and discussing his or her work will almost always lead to new insights about a poem. In the Poet Vision Video Series you can see and hear some of the country's most eminent poets, past and present. Allen Ginsberg, Robert Penn Warren, Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton and Stanley Kunitz are among the 12 poets in this series. Five of the 12 have served as Poet Laureate of the United States (the Poet Laureate is selected by the Librarian of Congress).

Henry Oliver Walker, artist. Detail from "Lyric                Poetry," 1897 Gertrude Clarke Whittall, ca. 1930s

At the Poet and the Poem Web page, you can listen to interviews of poets such as former Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Joshua Weiner, Naomi Shihab Nye, Linda Pastan and David Gewanter.

The Poetry and Literature Center of the Library of Congress was established in the 1940s and has been almost exclusively supported since 1951 by a gift from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who wanted to bring the appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The center administers several prestigious prizes in poetry and also sponsors an active series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, occasional dramatic performances and other literary events.

One of the initiatives of former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser (2004-2006) was a newspaper column about poetry made freely available. You can read Kooser's column online.

A. Henry Oliver Walker, artist. Detail from "Lyric Poetry," 1897. Thomas Jefferson Building mural. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Gertrude Clarke Whittall, ca. 1930s. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.