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Grace Interviews the United States Poets Laureate

Grace CavalieriGrace Cavalieri has conducted interviews with more than 2,000 poets including America's premier writers; among them, the United States Poets Laureate. It is an honor to make these transcriptions available for your reading. Please contact Grace for permission to quote or abstract. Credit information will be provided.

Joseph Brodsky
Joseph Brodsky is a native of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. His poetry has been published in twelve languages. Joseph Brodsky has lived in the U.S. since 1972 when he was exiled from the Soviet Union. He is the recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. His essay collection, Less Than One, was awarded the 1986 National Book Award for criticism. Winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize for Literature, he is one of only five Americans to win the award during the past thirty years.

Billy Collins
This interview was conducted at the Library of Congress, December 2001. Grace Cavalieri produces and hosts "The Poet and the Poem;" The series is delivered to public radio via NPR satellite. Billy Collins's  most recent books of poetry include a volume of new and selected poems, Sailing Alone Around the Room (Random House, 2001) Picnic, Lightning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998); The Art of Drowning, (1995); and, Questions About Angels (1991.) ...

Rita Dove
In May of 1993, Dove was named the Poet Laureate of the United States. She was the first African American appointed to the position as well as the first woman and the youngest, at 41 years old. Grace Cavalieri Interviews Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate. on her Inaugural Day at the Library of Congress, (1993) ...

Louise Gluck
Louise Gluck was the 12th Poet Laureate Consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress. This interview was conducted by Grace Cavalieri for the radio program "The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress," during the Library's bicentennial celebration in 2000. The program was distributed via NPR satellite to public radio stations. Louise Gluck holds the Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Wild Iris; She is the author of eight other books of poetry, most recently The Seven Ages (Ecco Press.). She holds the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize for Poetry, The National Critics Circle Award, and The Poetry Society of America's Melville Kane Award. ...

Robert Haas
Robert Hass is our Poet Laureate consultant in poetry. He was born in San Francisco, took his undergraduate degree at St. Mary’s College and his graduate degrees at Stanford University. He reads from Field Guide, his first book, and Human Wishes. His other collections are 20th Century Pleasures, The The Essential Haiku, and he has worked with many translations which we will find out about.

Donald Hall
Donald Hall is the author of 15 books of poetry. When not working on poems, he has published reviews, criticism, textbooks, sports journalism, memoirs, biographies, children's stories, and plays. And he is here with an opening poem. Grace Cavalieri interviews Donald Hall, 14th Poet Laureate of the United States, as he takes office in Washington D.C. This interview was recorded at the Library of Congress, September 2006. ...

Juan Filipe Herrera
Juan Felipe Herrera is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children, including Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), winner of National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. His other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN / Beyond Margins Award. Elected a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets in 2011, Herrera, who was born in Fowler, California, in 1948, served as the Poet Laureate of California from 2012-2015. ...

Josephine Jacobsen
Josephine Jacobsen was born in Ontario Canada in 1908. She authored many books of poetry including The Chinese Insomniacs, and The Sisters which won the Lenore-Marshall Award. Her career spanned more than six decades. The American Academy of the Arts Citation celebrated her as a recipient of "almost every major poetry award." From 1971-1973 she served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. This interview celebrated her ninth book, In the Crevice of Time, New and Collected Poems in 1995. Josephine Jacobsen died earlier this year, 2004. ...

Ted Kooser
Ted Kooser, who was born in Ames, Iowa, received his bachelor's degree from Iowa State and his master's in English from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is the author of 10 collections of poetry, including "Delights & Shadows," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. His other honors include two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Pushcart Prize and the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia. He is a professor in the English department at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. This interview was conducted at the Library of Congress the time of his inauguration as the 13th Poet Laureate of the United States. ...

Stanley Kunitz
Our guest is the tenth Poet Laureate of the United States, Stanley Kunitz, just inaugurated. Stanley Kunitz, the most beloved poet in America and a fitting choice to hold the county's top poetry post.  Born in Worchester, Massachusetts in 1905, educated in Harvard, he has done many things for other poets in this county. ...

Philip Levine
Philip Levine was the 18th Poet Laureate of the United States. The following Poems with commentary by Philip Levine are extracted from his conversation with Grace Cavalieri on public radio's " The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress ," the day of his inauguration, October 17, 2011. He holds the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, National Book Award, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Levinson Prize, American Book Award, two Guggenheim's, National Book Critic's Circle Award, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Frank O'Hara Prize plus others. Philip Levine is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry. ...

W.S. Merwin
William Stanley Merwin's honors include Pulitzer Prizes ,the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Tanning Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Pen Translation Prize, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Governor's Award for Literature of the State of Hawaii, the Guggenheim, the Ford Foundation; Fellowships from the American Academy of Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the former chancellorship of the Academy of American Poets, among numerous other awards. ...

Howard Nemerov
Howard Nemerov was the third Poet Laureate of the United States. At the time of this interview he was working on his 14th volume of poetry. He is the author of three novels, two collections of short stories and has received every top award including the Pulitzer in' 78. At the time of his death he was the Distinguished University Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. This interview took place the day of Mr. Nemerov's inauguration as Laureate. It was broadcast nationwide on satellite to public radio stations. ...

Robert Pinsky
Robert Pinsky is the U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, 1997-98. Pinsky's verse translation, The Inferno of Dante, was published in 1995. He teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University. He is the author of five books of poetry: Sadness and Happiness (1975), An Explanation of America (1979), History of  My Heart (1983), and The Want Bone (1990). The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems was published in 1996. This program was recorded while Mr. Pinsky visited the Library of Congress as a guest poet, 1995-96 season, the year prior to his appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate. ...

Kay Ryan
Kay Ryan, sixteenth Poet Laureate of the United States, and she’s all ours today. I’m Grace Cavalieri, and we’re at the Library of Congress, and we couldn’t be happier about that. It doesn’t seem like you could get in too much trouble. You live a writer’s life, you teach English, and yet you do have poems – chickens coming home to roost, survival poems – as if there’s a lot of danger out there. Do you think that the poet who’s most awake sees what there is to fear, or to worry about? Because your life looks like they can’t get you. ...

Charles Simic
Charles Simic was born in Yugoslavia on May 9, 1938. His childhood was complicated by the events of World War II. He moved to Paris with his mother when he was 15; a year later, they joined his father in New York and then moved to Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, where he graduated from the same high school as Ernest Hemingway. Simic attended the University of Chicago, working nights in an office at the Chicago Sun Times, but was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 and served until 1963. He earned his bachelor's degree from New York University in 1966. From 1966 to 1974 he wrote and translated poetry, and he also worked as an editorial assistant for Aperture, a photography magazine. He married fashion designer Helen Dubin in 1964. They have two children. He has been a U.S. citizen since 1971 and lives in Strafford, N.H. Our Poet Laureate Charles Simic says hello with an opening poem.

Mark Strand
Mark Strand has published eight books of Poetry, most recently The Continuous Life (1990). He is the author of three children's books and the coeditor of several anthologies, Including New Poetry of Mexico (with Octavio Paz) and Another Republic (with Charles Simic). He is also a translator and an art critic. As a poet, Mark Strand has won numerous awards; In 1990, he was appointed fourth Poet Laureate of the United States. ...

Natasha Trethewey
Natasha Trethewey is the Library of Congress's Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2012-2013. Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Trethewey received a BA from the University of Georgia, an MA from Hollins College (now Hollins University), and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts. Her first book of poems, Domestic Work (2000), was selected by former Poet Laureate Rita Dove as winner of the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was published by Graywolf Press. ...

Reed Whittemore
Reed Whittemore is the author of more than 14 books. He is a biographer and one of America’s most distinguished poets. He has twice served as the consultant in poetry to the library of congress. He is Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, he is the biographer of William Carlos Williams, and he is presently writing his memoirs. ...