Press Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

August 18, 1998

Library Announces Fall 1998 Literary Series
Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky to Kick Off Season

The Library of Congress literary season begins at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 8, with a reading by 1997-99 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Robert Pinsky, in the Mumford Room. Mr. Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project, part of the Library's bicentennial celebration in the year 2000, continues to encourage Americans to read or recite a favorite poem; readings have occurred across the United States, and the production of an archive of recordings of people reading their favorite poems is under way. Individuals interested in submitting suggestions may write to Mr. Pinsky, Creative Writing Department, Boston University, 236 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215.

The 1998 series of public literary events, sponsored by the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, will offer a variety of programs, including poetry readings by this year's Witter Bynner Fellows and by the winner of the 1998 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and a day-and-a-half series of lectures, seminars, readings, and musical performances, "Sterling Brown: American Poet and Cultural Worker."

On Oct. 14, poets David Ferry and Thom Gunn will read at 6:45 p.m. in the Montpelier Room. Mr. Ferry, who teaches at Wellesley College, is the author of many collections of poetry, critical works and works of translation. Mr. Gunn's Collected Poems appeared in 1994; he is on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.

On Oct. 16, the two 1998 Witter Bynner Fellows, Carol Muske and Carl Phillips, will read in the Montpelier Room. The Witter Bynner Fellowships, from the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress, are to be used to support the writing of poetry. The Fellows are chosen by the incumbent Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Only two tasks are asked of the Fellows: that each one organize a local poetry reading in his or her community and that each participate in a poetry reading at the Library of Congress. Ms. Muske and Mr. Phillips were the first Witter Bynner Fellows to be named. They were selected by Mr. Pinsky on Nov. 25, 1997.

On Oct. 22, the winner of the 1998 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry will read from his or her prize-winning book of poems. The winner will be chosen by a three-person jury in September, after which an announcement will be made. In addition to the winner, former Bobbitt Prize winners Louise Glck, Kenneth Koch and Mark Strand will read in celebration of the awarding of the fifth of these biennial prizes. The program will be in the Montpelier Room.

"Sterling Brown: American Poet and Cultural Worker," a series of readings, seminars and musical performances based on Mr. Brown's work, will be held on Oct. 23-24. All events will take place in rooms on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building. This fall, a special issue of the magazine Callaloo will be published on the work of Sterling Brown. Its editor, Charles Rowell, and its contributors are gathering for the cultural series. Participants will include Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and former Poet Laureate Rita Dove; poets Kenneth Carroll, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Michael S. Harper, Yusef Komunyakaa, E. Ethelbert Miller and Sonia Sanchez; filmmaker Haile Gerima; scholars Kimberly Benston, Joanne V. Gabbin, Mark A. Sanders and John Edgar Tidwell; and musicians Kyra Gaunt and the Emory Diggs Quartet.

On Nov. 4, in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library's Jefferson Building, seven Washington, D.C., area poets will read. They are: Michael Collier, Carolyn Forch, E. Ethelbert Miller, Linda Pastan, Stanley Plumly, Jane Shore, and Henry Taylor. The program, introduced by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, will celebrate the wealth of eminent poets to whom Washington, D.C., and its environs are home.

On Dec. 2, Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai will read from his work in the Mumford Room. This reading, presented in cooperation with the Embassy of Israel, is one of several events at the Library of Congress marking Israel's 50th anniversary; "Zion's Call: A Library of Congress Exhibition Marking Israel's 50th Year," will open to the public on Sept. 17 and run through Dec. 19; other events include a film series and an evening of Israeli ethnic music. To obtain tickets for Mr. Amichai's reading, telephone the Poetry and Literature Center, (202) 707-5395, after Nov. 1.

The final program of the fall 1998 literary series will be on Dec. 3; John Hollander and Alan Williamson will read their poems in the Montpelier Room. John Hollander's most recent collection of poetry is Tesserae, and Other Poems (1993). He is A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English at Yale University. Mr. Williamson is the author of the poetry collection The Muse of Distance (1988) and Eloquence and Mere Life: Essays on the Art of Poetry (1994). He teaches at the University of California, Davis.

Unless otherwise noted, readings will begin at 6:45 p.m. and, for most events, tickets will not be required. All of the events are free.

The Poetry and Literature Center, which administers the poetry 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 from 1939 to 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 Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series, plans other special events during the literary season, and usually introduces the programs.

Interpreting services (American Sign Language, Contact Signing, Oral and/or Tactile) will be provided if requested five business days in advance of the event. Call (202) 707- 6362 TTY and voice to make a specific request. For other ADA accommodations, contact the Disability Employment office at (202) 707-9948 TTY and (202) 707-7544 voice.

The spring 1999 literary series will begin in February 1999 and will be announced at a later date.

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PR 98-123
ISSN 0731-3527

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