National Endowment for the Arts Celebrates 100th Birthday
Literary critic and author Christopher Hitchens is among the speakers at commemorative events in Washington, DC and Charlottesville, VA
February 5, 2007
Washington, D.C. -- The National Endowment for the Arts announces All I Have Is a Voice: A Celebration of W. H. Auden's 100th Birthday, a two-day event to honor the legacy of poet W. H. Auden, considered one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. Sponsored by the NEA, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Poetry Daily Magazine, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities -- Center for the Book, the event is part of a national commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Auden's birthday on February 21. The celebration includes discussions and readings of Auden's work at St. Paul's Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia and at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC on February 26 and 27, respectively.
"W. H. Auden was one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Although born in England, he spent half his life in the United States and died an American citizen. Few poets have ever equaled his combination of imaginative force, musical genius, and moral authority. It is important for his centenary to be celebrated in the capital of his adopted country."
Both events will pay tribute to Auden's comprehensive contributions to literature in genres ranging from poetry to theater to music. The event in Charlottesville will feature leading Auden scholar Arthur Kirsch, professor emeritus of English at the University of Virginia; Eavan Boland, Stanford Creative Writing Program Director and celebrated Irish poet; and a presentation of "Cabaret Songs," Auden poems set to music by Sir Benjamin Britten. At the Folger Library, several poets and critics will discuss and read their favorite Auden works, among them Christopher Hitchens, renowned author, literary critic, and frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, Slate, and Vanity Fair. Hitchens will be joined by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, poet and scholar William Logan, and Edward Mendelson, director of the W. H. Auden Society. The Folger presentation will conclude with a performance of excerpts from "The Sea and the Mirror," Auden's poetic commentary on Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest.
Among the other Auden commemorations, a February 21 event at Yale University and a March 5 Auden tribute at the The 92nd Street YM-YWHA. Several readings will take place in England, Auden's birthplace, in London, Oxford, and York.
Details on Auden tribute in Charlottesville, VA and Washington, DC
The first event takes place on Monday, February 26, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at St. Paul's Memorial Church, 1700 University Avenue, Charlottesville, VA. The Washington, DC tribute will take place on Tuesday, February 27, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC. Both events are free and open to the public, however, seating is limited. To reserve a seat for the event in Charlottesville, send an email to audenVA@arts.endow.gov. To reserve a seat for the event in Washington, send an email to audenDC@arts.endow.gov. Please provide your name, organization, phone number, and number of attendees for the event.
Other NEA Poetry Resources
The Arts Endowment offers poetry resources for a range of audiences. Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program created in partnership with The Poetry Foundation that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Through NEA Literature Fellowships and Grants, the Arts Endowment nurtures many literary traditions through fellowships to emerging writers and incentive grants to nonprofit literary magazines and independent and university presses to publish, distribute, and promote poetry, fiction, translation, and creative nonfiction by contemporary writers. For more information, visit www.arts.gov.
About the Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-class center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. Home to the world's largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for research material from the early modern period (1500–1750), Folger Shakespeare Library is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs – theater, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. A gift to the American people from industrialist Henry Clay Folger, Folger Shakespeare Library -- located one block east of the U.S. Capitol -- opened in 1932. Learn more at www.folger.edu.
About Poetry Daily Magazine
Poetry Daily is an anthology of contemporary poetry that each day brings readers a new poem from books, magazines, and journals currently in print, along with information about featured poets and publishers, news from the poetry world, and occasional special features. Designed to broaden access to and foster appreciation for contemporary poetry, the site is found at www.poems.com.
About the Virginia Center for the Book
The Virginia Center for the Book is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH). The Center's vision is that every Virginian will have access to books and reading and to the power that books and reading provide to shape and inform personal and civic life. The Center for the Book promotes books, reading, literacy, and the literary life of Virginia through a variety of programs. As an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the VFH Center for the Book works within a network of 50 state-center affiliates. For more information, visit www.virginiafoundation.org/bookcenter/.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The NEA is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts -- both new and established -- bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.
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