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.
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.
Kaleena Black, educational resources specialist in the Library’s Learning and Innovation Office, offers teachers and students suggestions for identifying and exploring sources of inspiration and creativity by watching Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s inaugural event.
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.
Birding has a long history as a subject for books—scientific and literary, prose and poetry—and other media, reflected in the Library’s collections and, like many hobbies and other social distance-friendly activities, it is seeing a surge in interest during this time of pandemic.
Rebecca Newland, a Fairfax County Public Schools Librarian and former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress, explores ways to introduce audio recordings of poetry to students, especially as a form of remote learning.
Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate from 2012-2014, concludes the series with a video featuring her poem “Housekeeping.”
Today, on the last day of National Poetry Month, we are thrilled to report that the Librarian of Congress has appointed Joy Harjo for a second term as U.S. Poet Laureate.
On Friday, May 1, at 3 PM ET, the Library of Congress Learning and Innovation Office and By the People crowdsourcing team will partner with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) to host a Walt Whitman and crowdsourcing themed webinar.
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.