To mark the beginning of Women’s History Month, which follows on the heels of African American History Month, From the Catbird Seat would like to recognize Phillis Wheatley’s major impact on both literary history and women’s history. In 1773, Wheatley became the first African American woman to publish a book. Wheatley’s book, a volume of […]
In a recent post I discussed the history of the U.S. poet laureateship. What I didn’t mention, however, is that the job title “Poet Laureate” isn’t restricted to this national position: many U.S. states, counties, cities, and other jurisdictions have created analogous Poet Laureate positions at the local level. In fact, more than twenty years […]
The following is a guest post by Bryan Koen, graduate research assistant for the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. The Poetry and Literature Center congratulates former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Rita Dove, to whom President Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts on Monday, February 13. At the White House […]
From the Catbird Seat decided to combine our celebrations of Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day—not an easy thing to do!—by highlighting the youthful poetic efforts of George Washington. Yes, well before Washington was Commander in Chief of the Continental Army or President of the United States, he was just another teenage boy who turned to […]
On August 10, 2011, Philip Levine was appointed the 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. As the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Levine now occupies one of the best known literary positions in the country. Yet despite its high public profile, there are many aspects of the laureateship that remain unclear, or downright mystifying, to the public.
One bit of confusion is the widespread belief that the laureateship is funded with taxpayers’ money. In fact, the position is maintained through a privately funded endowment made to the Library in 1936 by the philanthropist Archer M. Huntington. Another uncertainty surrounds the official title of the Poet Laureate. From 1937 to 1985, the title was “Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress”; in 1985, an act of Congress changed the title to “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.” The greatest confusion, however, centers on a more fundamental question about the nature of the position:
What, exactly, does a Poet Laureate do? Read more »
The following is a guest post by Caitlin Rizzo, staffer for the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. Last Wednesday marked what would have been the 110th birthday of beloved American poet Langston Hughes. In celebration of this milestone, the Manuscript Division and the Poetry and Literature Center co-hosted a Literary Birthday […]
The following is a guest post by Roberta Shaffer, associate librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress. Each day in my adult life I am reminded, if not rejuvenated, by childhood rituals that I continue to practice—one of which is my “required daily allowance” of poetry. The need for poetry in my everyday […]
The following is a guest post by Abby Yochelson, English and American Literature Reference specialist at the Library of Congress’s Main Reading Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Division. As Rob Casper and Peter Armenti have introduced themselves in previous blogs, I’ll try to tell you a little about myself here. My name is Abby Yochelson, […]
The Poetry and Literature Center would like to wish Philip Levine a happy 84th birthday! The Library’s 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry gave a vivacious and engaging reading last October, and we look forward to his return this spring.
I’d like to echo Rob Casper’s previous post by welcoming you to “From the Catbird Seat.” My name is Peter Armenti, and I’m the poetry and literature reference specialist for the Library’s Digital Reference Section. During the ten years I’ve worked at the Library, one of my primary responsibilities has been to connect Library users […]