The Poet Laureate Meets the Librarian of Congress

Here’s a fun fact: the current Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, Juan Felipe Herrera, is in the unusual position of pre-dating our current Librarian of Congress! Herrera was appointed by the previous Librarian, James H. Billington, and he was re-appointed by acting Librarian David Mao back in April—five months before the swearing-in of Dr. Carla Hayden. In fact, Dr. Hayden didn’t have the opportunity to meet with the Laureate until he passed through the capital in late October.

I was happy to be in the room when Juan Felipe and Dr. Hayden did finally shake hands and sit down together, in the Librarian’s Office. And when Juan Felipe, in his customary way, announced he had written a poem for the occasion, I thought: I should film this! Here is a video of the Laureate reading his poem to the Librarian, entitled “Each Book is a Story”:

The Poet Laureate wrote the poem on the cardboard insert for his nice new dress shirt—here is a picture of the original version:

Librarian Poem

The final version, slightly revised by Juan Felipe, is as follows:


Each Poet Laureate brings different strengths to the position, finds different ways to use the position to promote poetry. One of Juan Felipe’s greatest strengths is his ability to write an occasional poem. It was only fitting that he do so for Dr. Hayden, to honor their meeting but in a larger sense to mark the historic and inspiring moment of her appointment.


  1. Darlene Richardson
    December 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    How lovely the sentiments of Juan Felipe to Dr. Hayden in his poem, “Each Book is a Story.” I did enjoy the handwritten version pictured in this article and his reading of it which included the phrase, “giving books of courageous love” in the video excerpt.

  2. Jan Tidwell
    December 15, 2016 at 4:01 am

    What a momentous occasion. So important for humanity, a poet and a librarian.

  3. Cathy Cain
    December 15, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    This is a picture/word poem. excellant.

  4. Sylvia Lewis
    January 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Such a warmhearted gesture. A lovely poem too! Thank you for sharing!

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.