Congratulations to Rita Dove

The following is a guest post by Bryan Koen, graduate research assistant for the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. The Poetry and Literature Center congratulates former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove, to whom President Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts on Monday, February 13. At the White House […]

George Washington: Love Poet

From the Catbird Seat decided to combine our celebrations of Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day—not an easy thing to do!—by highlighting the youthful poetic efforts of George Washington. Yes, well before Washington was Commander in Chief of the Continental Army or President of the United States, he was just another teenage boy who turned to […]

What Do Poets Laureate Do?

Philip Levine reads his poetry at the Library of Congress, October 17, 2011

Philip Levine, whose poetry has honored the working man for almost half a century, gave his inaugural reading as the 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress on Oct. 17.

On August 10, 2011, Philip Levine was appointed the 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. As the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Levine now occupies one of the best known literary positions in the country. Yet despite its high public profile, there are many aspects of the laureateship that remain unclear, or downright mystifying, to the public.

One bit of confusion is the widespread belief that the laureateship is funded with taxpayers’ money. In fact, the position is maintained through a privately funded endowment made to the Library in 1936 by the philanthropist Archer M. Huntington. Another uncertainty surrounds the official title of the Poet Laureate. From 1937 to 1985, the title was “Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress”; in 1985, an act of Congress changed the title to “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.” The greatest confusion, however, centers on a more fundamental question about the nature of the position:

What, exactly, does a Poet Laureate do? Read more »

Remembering Langston Hughes

The following is a guest post by Caitlin Rizzo, staffer for the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. Last Wednesday marked what would have been the 110th birthday of beloved American poet Langston Hughes. In celebration of this milestone, the Manuscript Division and the Poetry and Literature Center co-hosted a Literary Birthday […]

Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes

The following is a guest post by Abby Yochelson, English and American Literature Reference specialist at the Library of Congress’s Main Reading Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Division. As Rob Casper and Peter Armenti have introduced themselves in previous blogs, I’ll try to tell you a little about myself here. My name is Abby Yochelson, […]

A “Craven” Welcome

I’d like to echo Rob Casper’s previous post by welcoming you to “From the Catbird Seat.” My name is Peter Armenti, and I’m the poetry and literature reference specialist for the Library’s Digital Reference Section. During the ten years I’ve worked at the Library, one of my primary responsibilities has been to connect Library users […]

Hello from the Catbird Seat

Happy New Year, and welcome to the inaugural post for “From the Catbird Seat: Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress.” My name is Robert Casper—I am the head of the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center, and am pleased to welcome you here. This blog is one of the features of the Center, located […]