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

September 13, 1996

Poet Laureate Robert Hass To Open Fall 1996 Literary Season with a Lecture

Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Robert Hass will open the 1996-97 literary season at the Library of Congress with a lecture on Thursday, October 3. The program, which begins at 6:45 p.m., will be in the Montpelier Room on the 6th floor of the James Madison Memorial Building. Tickets are not required.

Robert Hass begins his second term as Poet Laureate Consultant with this program; during his first year, he brought the work of many poets from the Western states (younger voices as well as eminent writers) to local audiences. He also organized a weeklong gathering of notable nature writers; the conference, "Watershed: Writers, Nature, and Community," held at the Library and at other venues in Washington last spring.

Mr. Hass, whose new collection of poetry, Sun Under Wood, will be published by Ecco Press this fall, is the author of Field Guide (1973), which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award; and Praise (1979), which took the William Carlos Williams Award. His other works include Twentieth Century Pleasures (1984), a collection of essays that won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1985; Human Wishes (1989), a book of poetry and short prose pieces; and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (1994). He has worked with poet Czeslaw Milosz as a translator of many of Mr. Milosz's poems in his Collected Poems and in Mr. Milosz's books Provinces (1993) and Facing the River (1995).

Among Mr. Hass's other awards and honors are a Danforth Fellowship (1963-67) and a MacArthur Fellowship (1984-89). Mr. Hass is on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, where he continues to teach during his term as Poet Laureate Consultant.

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 96-126
ISSN 0731-3527

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