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National Poetry Month Events at the Library and Beyond

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Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivered her opening reading on September 13, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller. She will conclude her two terms as laureate in a program titled “American Celebration” on Monday, April 15, 2019.

With National Poetry Month in full swing, we hope you’ll join us in D.C. and around the country to toast the power of poetry during this “cruellest month.”

Tonight, April 4, at 6:30 p.m., we kick off our Poetry Month events here at the Library of Congress with the National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement, where the 2019 National Youth Poet Laureate will be announced. Regional Youth Poets Laureate and national finalists Kara Jackson (Chicago, IL), Haviland Nona Gai Whiting (Nashville, TN), Jackson Neal (Houston, TX), Azura Tyabji (Seattle, WA), and Maren Wright-Kerr (Baltimore, MD) will share their work. The event, also featuring Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County Youth Poets Laureate, will be hosted by award-winning poet Mahogany L. Browne. Join us tonight in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building; tickets are free via Eventbrite.

Next Monday, April 8, Portuguese poet Ana Luísa Amaral will share her work and participate in a moderated discussion with Talía Guzmán-González, Luso-Brazilian Specialist in the Hispanic Division, at 5:00 p.m. in the Hispanic Division Reading Room on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

On Monday, April 15, 22nd Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will mark the conclusion of her laureateship in an event titled “American Celebration.” She will join state, city, and county poets laureate Jeanetta Calhoun Mish (Oklahoma), Kealoha (Hawaii), Adrian Matejka (Indiana), Tina Chang (Brooklyn, NY), and Vogue Robinson (Clark County, NV) in a conversation onstage about the role of poets laureate. Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets, will moderate the discussion. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building and is free and open to the public. Tickets via Eventbrite are required for entry. If you can’t join us that evening, you can watch the livestreamed event on the Library’s Facebook page and its YouTube site.

While the poet laureate’s “farewell” event marks the close of the spring literary season at the Library of Congress, we continue our National Poetry Month celebration with two events outside Washington. For those in the Chicago area, you won’t want to miss the conversation between 19th Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and 20th Poet Laureate Charles Wright as part of the Poetry Foundation’s “Poetry Off the Shelf” series on Tuesday, April 23, at 7:00 p.m. Free tickets for the event, which will take place at the Poetry Foundation, are available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re around New York City later this month, you’ll want to catch Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in “Laureate and Librarian: A Conversation” on Monday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Kevin Young, director of the Schomburg Center, will lead the discussion. Free tickets are not required, but strongly recommended via Eventbrite.

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What else are you doing to celebrate National Poetry Month? Tell us in the comments.