The following is a guest post from Camila Escobar-Vredevoogd, the 2012 Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center.
Over the past two weeks, all of the Junior Fellows at the Library have been wrapping up their projects for one final display to celebrate their time here. The display has come and gone, and today is my last day as a Junior Fellow.
On the day of the exhibit, I proudly displayed findings from my time at the Library of Congress. I presented the signatures of Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maxine Kumin, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Merrill—all granting their permission to be recorded reading their work, all recognizably impressive and awe-inspiring—arranged neatly on stands at the Poetry and Literature Center’s table. Members of Congress, Library employees, and visitors to the Library of Congress were able to listen to these original recordings before their forthcoming release on the Poetry and Literature Center’s website.
I spent most of July 26th explaining excitedly to anyone who would listen how in a matter of months, Robert Frost’s voice could be streaming through their personal computers and reading “The Road Not Taken” to them. Not only could listeners be transported back to 1959 when he originally read, but his voice could also bring extra layers of nuanced meaning to many poems the world already knows and loves. I even got to play this recording to my more intrigued audience members, handing them headphones and watching their faces light up when Frost first announces his presence 5 seconds in. The reverence with which they put down the headphones afterwards affirmed my dedication to this project and to the greater mission of the Center.
During my time at the Library, I got to listen to many of these audio recordings. I experienced the added bonus of existing, day-to-day, in a beautiful office with people working tirelessly to create literary events, further collections, and advance contemporary poets. I’ll be sad to leave the audio archives project and my access to incredible collections, as well as the Poetry Office and the people in it. The ten weeks I spent here as a Junior Fellow has been a remarkable experience; I leave now with a greater knowledge and appreciation of poetry and with such optimism for the ways in which our love for poetry can be spread.