The following is a guest post by Maura Byrne, an intern at the Poetry and Literature Center.
Discovering new writers can be hard. This is especially true for teachers who work to offer a variety of writers to their students in hopes to spark interest in literature.
My mother is an elementary school teacher in Connecticut. She dedicated her summer, quarantining during the pandemic, to revamping her English curriculum. She explained to me that despite her love of books such as Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, her students don’t see themselves in those stories. Teaching at a predominantly Latinx school, my mother was searching for books about characters that looked like her students so they could discover the passion of storytelling that we both see in literature.
That’s where my internship at the Library of Congress came in. Throughout this past year I have had the pleasure of creating new Poet Laureate resource guides—many of which are now live for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Using Juan Felipe Herrera’s newly developed guide, my mother has been able to find Latinx-centered books appropriate for her students’ 5th grade reading level.
These guides on the Library of Congress website break down each Poet Laureate’s tenure with easy-to-navigate links to their press releases, webcasts, and blog posts. Moreover, the new guides do something extra special, too: They provide a bibliography of each poet’s works, and information on how to access them at the Library. This feature will allow teachers across the country to access new books for their classroom.
The Poet Laureate’s job is to use the creative world of poetry to help unite the nation, despite our many differences. This is now more important than ever.
These new resource guides are now up for all to access, and include the following Poets Laureate, with more being published soon:
- Tracy K. Smith
- Juan Felipe Herrera
- Charles Wright
- Natasha Trethewey
- Philip Levine
- W. S. Merwin
- Kay Ryan
- Charles Simic
- Donald Hall
- Ted Kooser
- Louise Glück
- Billy Collins
- Stanley Kunitz
- Robert Pinsky
- Robert Hass
See what books you will discover with them!