The following is a guest post by William Thompson, administrative specialist for the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.
My name is Brock Thompson, and this fall I’ve started working as the program coordinator for the Poetry and Literature Center. A native of Toad Suck, Arkansas, and an historian by trade, I am so delighted to join Rob Casper and company up here in the beautiful “Catbird’s Seat” of the Thomas Jefferson Building.
As my first PLC event here the Library, I had the pleasure of throwing a small birthday celebration for one of America’s most unique poets: the incomparable Marianne Moore, on what would have been her 126th birthday. This was in conjunction with our popular Literary Birthday Series.
Researching Moore at the Library, I found images of her wearing her trademark tricorn hat and cape, throwing out the first pitch at a major league baseball game, or just simply hanging out with her friend Muhammad Ali. Moore admired Ali very much and even did the liner notes for his spoken word album, I am the Greatest.
To help fete Moore we had the pleasure of hosting poets Mary Jo Salter of Johns Hopkins and Robyn Schiff of the University of Iowa. Mary Jo gave us a wonderful analysis of Moore’s poetry and style; Robyn dazzled the audience with a captivating reading tying her poetry to Moore’s.
We also had the pleasure of hosting Mark Manivong from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division here at the Library. Mark displayed some intriguing things from the Library’s vault regarding Moore’s life and legacy. This included letters exchanged between her and Ford Motor Company. Did you know that Ford approached Moore in 1955, asking her to informally submit names for its new car? Moore obliged and offered up suggestions including “Utopian Turtletop,” the “Ford Silver Sword,” and the “Mongoose Civique.” Ford politely declined all of her suggestions, opting instead for the “Edsel.” Probably best that Moore wasn’t tied to such a flop!
I’m in the process of planning some wonderful events, including more birthday celebrations and a LGBT pride month poetry celebration. So stay tuned!