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Washington, DC—As the Library of Congress celebrates the 20th National Book Festival, held online September 25-27, the National Endowment for the Arts will once again sponsor the Poetry & Prose Stage, featuring United States Poets Laureate, NEA Literature Fellows, and past participants in Poetry Out Loud. Registration will open for the free festival on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, at loc.gov/bookfest.

“We are proud of our long history of supporting the National Book Festival’s Poetry & Prose Stage, which over the years has been an important avenue to highlight writers, particularly poets, many of whom are recipients of our Literature Fellowships,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We are excited to celebrate the 20th year of the festival and the opportunity to bring together readers from across the nation during this weekend of events.”

Poster design by Rodrigo Corral Studio and Tyler Comrie Illustration and animation by Justin Metz

The 2020 Poetry & Prose Stage will feature both on-demand videos and live chats and discussions with acclaimed authors. Programming includes:

  • Poets Laureate on Connection—a conversation between Rita Dove, the first African-American Poet Laureate of the United States (1993-1995), and Joy Harjo, the current U.S. Poet Laureate and the first Native American to serve in the position as well as an NEA Big Read author.
  • Literary Lives—Mark Doty, author of What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life, in conversation with Jenn Shapland, author of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir.
  • The Examined Self—Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House: A Memoir, and Elizabeth Tallent, author of Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism discuss their respective memoirs and the experience of delving deep into their pasts.
  • The Virtues of Brevity—Susan Minot, author of Why I Don’t Write: And Other Stories, and Karen Russell, author of Orange World and Other Stories, talk about their craft, the ways they work, and the enchantments of the short story.
  • Readings by past U.S. Poets Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Robert Pinsky, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as Sandra Cisneros and Amy Tan.
  • Poetry recitations by, and conversations with, Poetry Out Loud champions, hosted by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter.

More information on the Library of Congress National Book Festival, including the full schedule and information on participating authors, is available at loc.gov/bookfest.

In addition to experiencing the festival online, PBS is also broadcasting the television special “The Library of Congress National Book Festival: Celebrating American Ingenuity.” With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, this two-hour program hosted by Hoda Kotb will air on Sunday, Sept. 27, 6-8 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings). It will also be available for on-demand streaming online and through the PBS app.

You can also find the National Endowment for the Arts in the Partner Activities section of the National Book Festival website, where you can learn more about how the National Endowment for the Arts supports opportunities for all Americans to participate in the arts, as well as information on the recent publication Creativity and Persistence: Art that Fueled the Fight for Women’s Suffrage, released as part of the centennial celebration of the passage of the 19th amendment.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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