- Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is appointed by the
United States Librarian of Congressand earns a stipend of $35,000 a year. Originally the title was "Consultant in Poetry", but that was changed in 1986to be "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry". The idea was modeled on the Poet Laureateof England. These poets and their terms of service are given below.
According to the Library of Congress,
:"The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress serves as the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry."
The Poet Laureate is appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress and serves from October to May. In making the appointment, the Librarian consults with former appointees, the current Laureate and distinguished poetry critics. The position has existed under two separate titles: from 1937 to 1986 as "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress" and from 1986 forward as "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry." The name was changed by an act of Congress in 1985.
The Laureate receives a $35,000 annual stipend funded by a gift from
Archer M. Huntington. The Library keeps to a minimum the specific duties in order to afford incumbents maximum freedom to work on their own projects while at the Library. The Laureate gives an annual lecture and reading of his or her poetry and usually introduces poets in the Library's annual poetry series, the oldest in the Washington area, and among the oldest in the United States. This annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, and occasional dramatic performances began in the 1940s. Collectively the Laureates have brought more than 2,000 poets and authors to the Library to read for the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature.
Each Laureate brings a different emphasis to the position.
Joseph Brodskyinitiated the idea of providing poetry in airports, supermarkets and hotel rooms. Maxine Kuminstarted a popular series of poetry workshops for women at the Library of Congress. Gwendolyn Brooksmet with elementary school students to encourage them to write poetry. Rita Dovebrought together writers to explore the African diasporathrough the eyes of its artists. She also championed children's poetry and jazz with poetry events. Robert Hassorganized the "Watershed" conference that brought together noted novelists, poets and storytellers to talk about writing, nature and community."
Billy Collinswas appointed to the position, a group of poets and critics associated with the POETICS listprotested by voting for an anti-laureate. Anselm Hollowas elected to this position.
Poets who have held the Library of Congress poetry position, 1937 to present
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
2009 Kay Ryan
*1999–2000 Special Bicentennial Consultants:
Rita Dove, Louise Glückand W.S. Merwin
Mona Van Duyn
Robert Penn Warren
Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (title of position prior to 1986)
Reed Whittemore(Interim Consultant in Poetry)
Robert Fitzgerald(Appointed and served in a health-limited capacity, but did not come to LC)
*1978–1980 William Meredith
William Jay Smith
William Carlos Williams(appointed but did not serve)
Conrad Aiken(First to serve two terms)
Robert Penn Warren
List of poetry awards
*List of literature awards
List of years in poetry
List of years in literature
* [http://www.loc.gov/poetry/laureate.html Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, on the Library of Congress web site]
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