We at the Poetry and Literature Center are gearing up for next week’s Poet Laureate Opening event, which we commonly say launches the office’s literary calendar. This year, though, we’re excited to begin with our poetry program a bit earlier with the kickoff to the sixth season of our “Life of a Poet” series.
This series features poets in conversation with Ron Charles, book critic for The Washington Post, at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital—just down the street from the Library’s Capitol Hill campus. I like to describe “Life of a Poet” as a live version of the famous “Writers at Work” series by The Paris Review, or a poetry-focused version of “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” But really it’s got a magic all its own, thanks to Ron Charles: Ron prepares for each poet by reading all of their work and picking out poems for discussion, then generating pages and pages of quotes/topics/questions. Onstage, Ron both directs the conversation and follows whatever discoveries happen—and I’ve seen poets reveal aspects of their life and work they’ve never before discussed publicly, or even thought through for themselves!
“Life of a Poet” has featured all sorts of poets whose work I love—and tonight I’m excited to see poet and editor Carmen Giménez Smith talk with Ron (make sure to reserve your free, required tickets here!). I’ve been a fan of Carmen’s work since we published her in the literary magazine I founded, jubilat, over a decade ago. We also featured Carmen a few years back at the library on a panel, “Poetry, Publishing, and Race,” which I co-moderated with Poetry Magazine Editor Don Share—but I’m eager to champion her own amazing poems through the “Life of a Poet” series. Really, if you love poetry and are in the D.C. area tonight, I hope you make your way to the Hill Center and join me in a can’t-miss experience. (Don’t just take my word for it—take Ron’s!) I promise it will be moving and thought-expanding, will surprise you and focus you, and will ultimately show you how language can contend with our world in the most powerful and meaningful ways you can imagine.