Press Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191
Public Contact: Recorded Announcement (202) 707-5394

February 17, 1999

Poets Donald Hall and Charles Simic To Read at the Library of Congress March 4

Poets Donald Hall and Charles Simic will read from their work March 4 at the Library of Congress. The reading, presented under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund, will take place at 6:45 p.m. in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building. Tickets are not required.

Mr. Hall is the author of four plays, 14 collections of poetry and 21 prose works. His most recent book is Without: Poems (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), a collection exploring his feelings about the illness and death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon.

Publishers Weekly has described Without as "a heartbreaking portrait of a marriage that death has not quite ended." A New York Times Book Review article states that Mr. Hall's poetry "marches in a stately order; classical in its dignity and perfectly readable, it argues the mystical union of dark and light, death and life."

Mr. Simic, who received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his collection The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems (1989), was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1938, and emigrated to the United States in 1954. He is the author of 13 books, a new collection, Jackstraws: Poems, will be published this year by Harcourt Brace & Company. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including a PEN International Award for translation, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Harriet Monroe Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim, MacArthur, Ingram-Merrill and Fulbright foundations. He has taught English at the University of New Hampshire in Durham since 1973.

"Moody, fatalistic, ironic and romantic, Simic conjures an alien yet familiar, dreamy yet gritty cinematographic world where city streets are a stage, mirrors reflect empty beds, and people brood about pleasure and pain, folly and beauty," states an articles in Booklist. A review in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch says that Mr. Simic's poems "make you feel uneasy, vaguely resentful, a bit fearful, as if Kafka were writing on a domed plane that included eating and sleeping, watching television, drinking beer, watching kids."

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 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. As part of the Library's Bicentennial, Mr. Pinsky is selecting a broad cross- section of Americans reading their favorite poems aloud. In the year 2000, when the Library celebrates its 200th birthday, Mr. Pinsky will present 200 video and 1,000 audio tapes of these readings to the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature as one of the Library's birthday gifts to the nation. These readings will augment the already existing Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, which has recordings of 2,000 poets and authors reading their work. Among them are Robert Penn Warren, Robert Frost, Maxine Kumin and Gwendolyn Brooks.

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.

# # #

PR 99-024
2/17/99
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top