Happy New Year!

View from the Poetry Office on January 2nd, 2013 — blue skies!

After a long and lovely holiday season, it’s nice to be back in the office with the whole of 2013 ahead of us. And what a year it will be—the Poetry and Literature Center will celebrate 75 years of Consultants and Poets Laureate. We kick off our big year in style, with a reading to honor our new Bobbitt Prize winner Gerald Stern and a reading by our new Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, as part of the Library’s exhibit “The Civil War in America.”

Speaking of the Poet Laureate, there’s a lovely piece on her and her upcoming residency in the Poetry and Literature Center—a first for a Laureate! We are very excited to have her join the staff and work in our Poetry Room, and we’re excited to see what her tenure here brings—she has talked about holding “office hours,” for one, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors to the attic.

This spring will also see the launch of our redesigned website, with several new features. First will be our “Interview” section, with an interview of Joshua Beckman conducted by PLC staffer Caitlin Rizzo. This interview will reference the piece Joshua wrote and performed as part of our “Literary Birthdays” event on Walt Whitman last spring—a great way to continue the conversation about one of America’s greatest poets.

We are also excited to launch our “Poetry of America” website, to coincide with the relaunch of the Library’s “Song of America” website. “Poetry of America” will feature essays and recordings examining poetry’s connection to the history and identity of our country, and argue for the art’s powerful role in helping us make sense of our lives. Later on in the year we will add our “Audio Archives” page to the PLC website—this page will serve as a portal to all of the Library’s literary recordings from our seventy-five years and present streaming audio of selected highlights.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that we will soon be adding an important constituency to our ranks: Friends of the Poetry and Literature Center. While the office works hard to expand our programming and support our Laureate, we are eager to connect to a larger community and work together, on behalf of the nation’s oldest federal institution, to further the cause of poetry and literature.

Of course, there is much more coming this year, but I wouldn’t want to give everything away! I hope you have a great year, and I look forward to celebrating our great writers together.

A Grimm Beginning

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder-und Hausmärchen), popularly known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The collection’s bicentennial has already been marked by the publication of a new retelling of fifty of the tales by His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman …

Read more »

A Tale of Two Laureates

While most of the Poetry and Literature Center’s public programs happen here in Washington, DC, a small but growing number take place throughout the country. Last week I had the chance to fly out to Los Angeles, for a reading with the current Poet Laureate at the lovely LA Central Library. The event could not …

Read more »

Discoveries I’ve Made

 The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Acevedo, a 2012-2013 intern at the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center. I have a confession to make: I have not always been an avid reader of poetry. This tends to be a problem when you’re an intern at the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature …

Read more »

Epistle for Thanksgiving

The following is a guest post by Mary Lou Reker, program specialist at the Library of Congress Office of Scholarly Programs. Over the last three or four years I’ve been researching American writers popular during the 1920s through 1950s. One of these was Archibald MacLeish, the former Librarian of Congress. So when my colleague Rob …

Read more »

Poetry at Work

PLC intern Elizabeth Acevedo reads Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me” to Caitlin Rizzo. Since coming to the Poetry and Literature Center as a Junior Fellow, I’ve welcomed many new office traditions: morning coffee, baked goods at least once every two weeks, and watching Rob dance. Though, by far my favorite office tradition is …

Read more »

The Mission

The following is a guest post by Sheila McMullin, a 2012-2013 intern at the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center. In 2009, I had just moved back from college in Arizona to my parents home in Orange County, California. One day my mother, an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of California-Riverside, came …

Read more »

Turning to Poetry

The following is a guest post by Rob Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, from his home in Brooklyn, NY. I write this on Oct. 31st, from Brooklyn. My wife and I live in Park Slope—I commute to DC every week. We got through the storm unscathed, unlike the …

Read more »