Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

February 1, 1995

Washington, D.C. Students Will Read Their Poems at the Library of Congress

On Thursday, February 23, in a special program, "Young Voices at the Library of Congress," Washington, D.C., students (grades 4-10) will read their poems as part of the Library's Spring 1995 literary series. The reading, which is presented under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, will begin at 6:45 p.m. in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove and poet Laurie Stroblas will introduce the poets. Families are encouraged to attend this program, which will be followed by a pizza reception. Admission is free; tickets or reservations are not required.

When Rita Dove decided to present the work of young local poets in the Library's literary series, she called upon Laurie Stroblas for assistance. With an arts education grant, Ms. Stroblas initiated the Poetry on the Metro Project, sponsored in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, with cooperation from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the D.C. Public Library System. In an effort to highlight the imagination of Washington students and to demonstrate the results of arts education and the importance of literacy, she enlisted the interest of WMATA, which agreed to display 1,000 posters featuring poems by young writers inside the city's 750 buses. The series of six different "District Lines" poetry posters features work by Will Nash Ajayi, Kendra Gray, Damia Mayfield, Rebeccah Watson, and a young man named Steven. Some of these "District Lines" poets will read in this program at the Library. As part of the project, Ms. Stroblas taught free, community- based, six-week poetry writing workshops for young people last spring and summer at the Mount Pleasant Library. Several of the students who attended these workshops, as well as other young authors, will also participate in the Library of Congress reading.

Laurie Stroblas has been an editor and book marketing manager for the National Academy of Sciences and the book manager for the Urban Institute Press. She has taught creative writing workshops to students from several Washington, D.C., public elementary and middle schools, including Hobson, Hardy, Key, Mann, and Stoddert; served as poet in residence at Children's National Medical Center; and led on-site creative writing workshops in museums. Ms. Stroblas has been an Arts Administration Fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts and served on the jury panel for the 1994 Mayor's Arts Awards. The poetry and literature reading series at the Library of Congress is the oldest in the Washington area, and one of the oldest in the United States. This annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, and occasional dramatic performances began 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 enjoyment and appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The Poetry and Literature Center, which administers the series, is also the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when the late philanthropist Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress. Since then, many of the nation's most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 in 1985, as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series, plans other special literary events during the reading season, and usually introduces the programs.

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PR 95-015
2/1/95
ISSN 0731-3527

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