Happy New Year from the PLC!

Hello everyone, and hope you had lovely holidays. We’re back in the office and gearing up for the year to come, but as we do I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on this past year.

Tracy K. Smith records for “The Slowdown.” Photo by Rob Casper.

A year ago this month “The Slowdown,” laureate Tracy K. Smith’s show featuring “five minutes of poetry every weekday,” kicked off on radio stations around the country. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, or if you missed some weeks here and there, just go to the website or any podcast app and you can peruse the almost 300 episodes to date!

Smith concluded her second laureate term with a wonderful program called “American Celebration,” in which she shared the stage with other poets laureate from across the country. And it wasn’t the last time we featured state, county, and city poets laureate—at the 2019 National Book Festival, the new poet laureate fellows (named by the Academy of American Poets) traveled to D.C. from a dozen different states to read.

Poet Laureate Joy Harjo performs during her opening event. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

In between, there was some big news: the appointment of Joy Harjo as the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Joy kicked off her term with a hugely popular opening reading in the Coolidge Auditorium—though it was more an opening concert, with Joy playing sax and the native flute, and singing and reciting her poems along with a three-piece band. You can watch the video of the event online, and you can learn more about Joy on her PLC page and on her Library of Congress Resource Guide.

As the year starts, I look forward to Joy’s closing event in April. This month we will post that event and the rest of our spring calendar online. We have also started listing Joy’s non-Library-affiliated events around the country, so even if you can’t come see her here in D.C. you can find out if and when she’s coming to your state.

In the months ahead there will be more news to share, on the laureateship and on the Center’s wealth of honors, events, and initiatives. I’m excited to share more news on what’s happening at the Library to further promote poetry and literature as well! In the meantime, I want to thank you for continuing to be a part of the PLC community, and I wish you all the best for 2020.

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