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2012 National Poetry Month poster featuring "Our Valley" by Philip Levine / Chin-Yee Lai

April marks National Poetry Month, a time for poets and lovers of poetry everywhere to unite, recite and delight in the art and in those who have created it. The annual commemoration was inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.

Some of my favorite poets include Byron, Tennyson, Yeats and Neruda. And I plan to make sure to dig out some of their best-loved verses to commemorate the month. How about you? Who will you be reading?

The Library does much to celebrate thanks to its own Poetry and Literature Center. On tap this month are a slew of events, including an April 4 April 5 reading by this year’s winners of the Library of Congress’s Witter Bynner Fellowship, an April 13 reading by Japanese-American poet Garrett Hongo and the ever-popular Shakespeare’s birthday celebration on April 18. (Webcasts of these events should be available on our site in the coming weeks.)

Established in the 1940s, the Poetry and Literature Center has been almost exclusively supported since 1951 by a gift from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who wanted to bring the appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The center administers several prestigious prizes in poetry and also sponsors an active series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia and other literary events in addition to its full April schedule.

Make sure to also check out its blog, From the Catbird Seat, to stay updated on the latest musings.

The Library’s website is also an excellent resource for American poetry. The Poet Laureate of the United States (currently Philip Levine) is chosen by the Librarian of Congress, and the holder of the position maintains an office on the top floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Levine will actually be on hand to introduce the Witter Bynner fellows at the April 4 April 5 event.

While I could list enough to fill several blog posts, I’ll point you to this handy resource guide that offers a comprehensive list of the various poetry resources available on the Library’s site.


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