Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

October 8, 1998

Sterling A. Brown: American Poet and Cultural Worker

A series of readings, seminars and musical performances honoring poet and teacher Sterling A. Brown will be held at the Library October 23 and 24 to coincide with the publication of a special issue of the literary journal Callaloo focusing on Brown's work. Callaloo Editor Charles Rowell, and the journal's contributors will gather at the Library of Congress for the series. Neither tickets nor reservations are required.

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 the Emory Diggs Quartet and Melanie Sullivan.

Symposium events are as follows:

Friday, October 23

Poet Lucille Clifton will deliver a keynote address following a welcome by Mr. Pinsky and Mr. Rowell, 6 p.m., Montpelier Room, sixth floor, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E.

Saturday, October 24

Opening remarks, "Sterling A. Brown: His Life and Achievements," will be made by his official biographer, John Edgar Tidwell of Miami University, at 9:30 a.m., Mumford Room, sixth floor, Madison Building.

Scholar Kimberly Benston will speak on "Sterling Brown: Cultural Worker," 2:30 p.m., Mumford Room.

A documentary about Mr. Brown's life, "After Winter," will be shown, followed by a question-and-answer session with filmmaker Haile Gerima, 5 p.m. in Dining Room A, sixth floor, Madison Building.

"A Tribute: Poets Read from Sterling A. Brown," will feature readings by Rita Dove, Michael S. Harper, Yusef Komunyakaa and Sonia Sanchez, 7 p.m., Montpelier Room.

A blues performance of Sterling A. Brown's series of Slim Greer poems will be given by Kenneth Carroll and the Emory Diggs Quartet, 8:30 p.m. Mumford Foyer.


According to Mr. Tidwell, the career of Sterling A. Brown (1901-1989) as poet, literary and cultural critic, anthologist, master teacher, and raconteur captures and preserves a thoughtful aesthetic and cultural legacy that sustains us today. Mr. Brown was educated in the Washington, D.C., public schools in the early 1900s, before he moved on to Williams College (1918-1922, A.B. degree, Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard University (1922-1923, M.A. degree).

At Virginia Seminary and College (1923-1926), Brown began a distinguished teaching career, with stops at Lincoln University (1926-1928) and Fisk University (1928-1929) before arriving at Howard University in 1929.

With Arthur P. Davis and Ulysses Lee, Brown edited The Negro Caravan (1941), the literary anthology that served as a comprehensive statement of African American literary production for the next 35 years. As a result of recent archival discoveries, the significance of Brown's participation in the Federal Writers' Project (1936-1940) and the Carnegie-Myrdal Study (1939-1940) is only now understood.

The Poetry and Literature Center, which administers the poetry series of the Library of Congress, 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 1997-1999 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, Robert Pinsky, is the award-winning translator of The Inferno of Dante and a creative writing professor at Boston University. He 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.

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PR 98-166
ISSN 0731-3527

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