Thoughts in the Time of Pandemic: Walt Whitman at Memorial Day

May is the month of Walt Whitman’s birth and also of Memorial Day, when the nation is asked to pause and delve mindfully into remembrance of past wars and service and sacrifices rendered. Library of Congress Manuscript Division curator Barbara Bair explores Whitman’s experiences and remembrances of war, isolation, suffering, and a turn to art in times of crisis—and how these themes connect to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Sholem Aleichem, The Yiddish Mark Twain

For Jewish American Heritage Month, a guest post by research specialist Susan Garfinkel explores the legacy of author Sholem Aleichem, sometimes called “the Yiddish Mark Twain,” whose stories of Tevye the dairyman inspired Fiddler on the Roof. Drawing on items from the Library’s collections, including newspapers, playscripts, poems, and recordings, she looks at Aleichem’s time in America, and delves into the question of whether the two famous humorists ever met.

Literary Treasures: Audre Lorde and Marge Piercy, 1982

Intern Brooke Biastock explores a recording of Audre Lorde and Marge Piercy reading their poetry in the Coolidge Auditorium in 1982. This recording was just added as part of our annual release, during National Poetry Month, of 50 newly streaming recordings to the online Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature.

Gwendolyn Brooks: “We Real Cool,” Two Ways

The Library has just added a 1961 recording of Gwendolyn Brooks reading her poems, including “We Real Cool,” as part of its annual release of 50 newly streaming recordings to the online Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. This recording came 24 years before Brooks was appointed Consultant in Poetry and read the poem—which had since become iconic—during her inaugural event.