Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

October 29, 1997

Poets David Gewanter and Myra Sklarew To Read at the Library of Congress

David Gewanter and Myra Sklarew will read their poems at the Library of Congress at 6:45 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building. Tickets are not required for the free reading.

Mr. Gewanter has recently joined the faculty of Georgetown University. He was head preceptor of the expository writing program at Harvard University, where he also directed the writing programs in the Division of Continuing Education.

He received his B.A. degree in intellectual history from the University of Michigan in 1980. He earned an M.A. in 1986 and a Ph.D. in 1991, both in English, from the University of California, Berkeley. Among his awards and honors are two from the Academy of American Poets (1986 and 1990), two Pushcart Prize nominations (1989 and 1990), and a National Poetry Competition commendation (1986). His first collection of poetry is In the Belly, published this year by the University of Chicago Press.

"David Gewanter's language," writes poet Mark Doty, "offers us exactitude and surprise, but there's more here than freshness: In the Belly delivers a startling, unexpected emotional weight. These poems examine the body, the inescapable locus of desire and of loss, of persistence and decay. Gewanter's careful ear and delicate eye are engaged in a sustained work of investigation: a struggle to find, in the difficult stuff of experience, what can be known, and said."

Myra Sklarew, former president of the artists' community Yaddo, professor of literature and co-director of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at American University, is the author of eight collections of poetry and a work of short fiction. From the Backyard of the Diaspora (1976, 1981) received the Jewish Book Council Award in Poetry and the Di Castagnola Award; the title poem of her most recent collection of poetry, Lithuania: New & Selected Poems, received the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award from the Judah Magnes Museum. A work of nonfiction, Holocaust and the Construction of Memory, is scheduled for publication next year.

Inge Judd, in Library Journal, writes: "Objects surrounding us every day, insights guided by Jewish ritual and history, relationships remembered or hoped for are evoked. ... This is Sklarew's first full-length collection since 1975, and one of the most appealing, strikingly intelligent books this reviewer has seen in months."

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. Archibald MacLeish, who was Librarian of Congress in 1939-1944, determined the Consultant in Poetry should be an annual appointment. 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, currently Robert Pinsky, award-winning translator of "The Inferno of Dante" and a creative writing professor at Boston University, suggests authors to read in the literary series, plans other special literary events during the reading season, and usually introduces the programs.

# # #

PR 97-188
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top