Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
November 9, 1995
Boston Poets Frank Bidart and Robert Pinsky To Read at the Library of Congress
On Thursday evening, December 7, poets Frank Bidart and Robert Pinsky will read from their work in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building. The reading, presented under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, will begin at 6:45 p.m. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Robert Hass will introduce the poets. Tickets are not required.
Frank Bidart was educated at the University of California and at Harvard University. His collections of poetry are Golden Gate (1973), The Book of the Body (1977), The Sacrifice (1983), and In the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-90 (1990). The Sacrifice contains the poem "The War of Vaslav Nijinsky," which, in 1981, won The Paris Review's first Bernard F. Conners prize for a long poem. Mr. Bidart teaches at Wellesley College and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
David Lehman, in Newsweek, describes Mr. Bidart's work as "poetry that is innovative in its means and rich in moral and psychological implication." Frederick Garber, in American Poetry Review, states: "Bidart's text, with its music and passions and tragic power, is a major act of making which no one around has matched in kind and few in quality and scope."
Robert Pinsky teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University. His verse translation, The Inferno of Dante, was published this past summer. He is the author of four books of poetry: Sadness and Happiness (1975), An Explanation of America (1979), History of My Heart (1983), and The Want Bone (1990). Two collections of his essays are The Situation of Poetry (1976) and Poetry and the World (1988).
Mr. Pinsky's translation of The Inferno has elicited wide acclaim. Poet Richard Howard writes: "Astonished--indeed sometimes turned to stone by such wonder--the Pilgrim tells in tremulous excitement what he sees, sees next, and then . . . Pinsky is the first American poet (perhaps because he is an American poet) to give us this newness of infernal things."
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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