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Today in History: The Poet-Librarian Edition

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Archibald MacLeish

National Poetry Month ended exactly one week ago, but today?s ?TIH? celebrates the May 7, 1892, birth of the ?poet-librarian,? Archibald MacLeish, the ninth Librarian of Congress.

The Pulitzer Prize winner was Librarian of Congress for five years ? a relatively brief span, given that only 13 individuals have held the post in the Library?s 207-year history. The current Librarian of Congress, James Billington, celebrates his 20th anniversary in the position in September 2007. Anyone can correct me if I?m wrong, but that would seem to be the longest currently serving head of any federal agency.

Speaking of poetry, I?d be remiss not to mention a series of very special events sponsored jointly by the Library of Congress, the Poetry Foundation and the London-based Poetry Society.

For the first time ever, the poets-laureate for the United States and the United Kingdom will participate in joint readings, the first of which is this evening in Chicago, and again on Thursday, May 10, here at the Library. The pair will wrap up the series next month in London.

Comments (2)

  1. I have a question (actually it comes from my Junior English class):

    Why does the Library of Congress not select an African-American male poet? There are a number of influential ones out there (Yusef Komunyaaka’s name comes to mind), yet the listing of laureates seems to lack this dimension.

    When a student was teaching about Rita Dove, one of her peers asked when was she the poet laureate & when informed it was during Clinton’s administration remarked, “It figures.”

    Thank you for having the Poets Laureate available on-line. I am going to change my poetry assignment next year to take advantage of this resource.

  2. Where can I find books that define “endorsement”?

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