The Library of Congress THE LOC.GOV WISE GUIDE
HOME The Mastery of Calligraphy A Garden of Books at the Mall Did Jefferson Scream for Ice Cream? A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery 'The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty' 'Mr. Watson Come Here' Game, Set, Match! The First African American to Win Wimbledon
'The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty'

"I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty."

So said one of America's greatest poets, Edgar Allan Poe, in his 1850 essay "The Poetic Principle."

"Edgar Allan Poe," ca. 1904 Portrait of Donald Hall

For nearly 70 years, the Library of Congress has recognized the importance of poetry by naming a Poet Laureate of the United States. The position has existed under two separate titles: from 1937 to 1986 as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and from 1986 forward as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The name was changed by an act of Congress in 1985.

The current Poet Laureate is Donald Hall, who was chosen by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington this past June. Hall will take up his duties in the fall, opening the Library's annual literary series in October with a reading of his work. He will also be a featured speaker at the Library's National Book Festival Poetry Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 30, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. If you want to familiarize yourself with Hall's work, you can listen to Hall read his poem "Mount Kearsarge."

The Library’s Poetry page offers a wealth of resources devoted to this lyrical art form. Each Poet Laureate is given a minimum of official duties by the Library in order to allow time for the Laureate to place a personal stamp on projects of his or her choosing. For example, former Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003) wanted to make poetry a part of our daily lives with his Poetry 180 project. Although originally intended to offer a poem for each day of the school year, the site can be enjoyed by anyone with a love of poetry. Hall's predecessor, Ted Kooser (2004-2006), developed the American Life in Poetry project as a free weekly column on poetry for newspapers and other publications.

The Library maintains a very active literary season, drawing the nation's best writers to Washington to read and speak about their work. Many of the poets' presentations are available at the Poetry Webcasts page.

A. "Edgar Allan Poe," ca. 1904. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-10610 (b&w film copy neg.); Call No.: BIOG FILE - Poe, Edgar Allan [item] [P&P]

B. [Portrait of Donald Hall]. Courtesy Stephen Ratiner. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.