The Library of Congress announced that 78-year-old Charles Wright will be named the next poet laureate this week. A retired professor at the University of Virginia, he has already won almost all prizes in the poetry world, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Upon learning of his new post, he told NPR: “I’ll probably stay here at home and think about things.” Librarian of Congress James Billington chose Mr. Wright for his poetry’s “combination of literary elegance and genuine humility”, saying his work offers “an infinite array of beautiful words reflected with constant freshness.” Ancient of Days is from Caribou his latest collection of poetry published in March:
This is an old man’s poetry, written by someone who’s spent his life
Looking for one truth.
Sorry, pal, there isn’t one.
Read more of his poetry in these articles from the NYTimes and NPR. And check the EPL catalog for his works.
Natasha Trethewey has just been named the 19th poet laureate by the Library of Congress. Creative writing professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, she’s the first Southerner appointed to the post since Robert Penn Warren in 1986 (the first poet laureate), and the first African American since Rita Dove in 1993. In 2007 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection Native Guard, and her newest book of poetry Thrall will be published this fall. Much of her work deals with memory, “in particular the way private recollection and public history sometimes intersect but more often diverge. “The ghost of history lies down beside me,” she writes in one of her poems, “rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm.” See the library catalog for more of her writings, and check out this NYT article and the NPR link to hear Ms. Trethewey read two of her poems.
The Library of Congress together with Sony has assembled the largest collection of historical recordings of speeches, music, poetry, and spoken word materials in the world. It covers the first 25 years of the 20th century and includes several thousand items (for listening only). As heard on NPR.
While browsing through the LOC website my attention was drawn to the striking artwork sponsored by the Works Progress Administration, the program Roosevelt put forth in 1935 to encourage employment after the Depression. This exhibit features some Chicago based artists. I accessed this wealth of information by visiting the LOC website and exploring until I found the WPA link (I would encourage you to investigate other links in the African American Mosaic Exhibit, as well). It can be a little overwhelming, but if you have a few minutes (or a few hours!), you will be rewarded with fascinating documents, photos, and glimpses into American history through the African American lens.
Despite the intense heat (over 90 degrees!) many people turned out to join in the Library of Congress‘ 10th Annual National Book Festival on Sept. 25, 2010 held at the Mall in historic Washington, D.C. ( For those of you who haven’t been there, this is a wonderfully large, public space where people are encouraged to enjoy the Smithsonians (19 free world class museums) lining the walkways of the area between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. I highly encourage you to make the trip.)
Anyway, please check out the Library of Congress’ website explaining the programs for children and adults. Plenty of exciting events were planned: book signings, dozens of author talks and appearances, and children’s and teen activities. The lineup of authors was quite impressive, for instance, famous children’s author, Rosemary Wells ( of the Max and Ruby series) was there along with fiction writers Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon, and Pulitzer-winning historian David Remnick! That’s a small sample! You could even vote for your favorite author. Enjoy browsing-