The President and Mrs. Clinton have announced that the next Millennium Evening will be a celebration of American creativity through poetry featuring Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove and will take place in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. The Poets Laureate, along with President and Mrs. Clinton and members of the audience, will read poems they have selected as particularly illustrative of the American voice in poetry.
Millennium Evenings at the White House are a series of lectures and cultural showcases that highlight creativity and inventiveness through our ideas, art and scientific discoveries. The lectures present prominent scholars, creators and visionaries and are accessible to the public via broadcast and cybercast.
The President and Mrs. Clinton encourage the public to participate in the evening's discussion by e-mailing questions for the three poets laureate or sending a favorite poem with comments,either before or during the cybercast. These may be sent via the White House Web Site several days before the event. The Website will also post satellite coordinates (on C and KU bands) and serve as a link to the cybercast. It will also be available via the Web page of Sun Microsystems.
Robert Pinsky is the current Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress. He is focusing his work on the Favorite Poem Project. In commemoration of the millennium, one to two thousand Americans, from every state, with varying regional accents, ages, levels of education, professions and ethnicities will recite their favorite poems for an audio/video archive. In addition to a long career in teaching, most recently at Boston University, Professor Pinsky has served as poetry editor of The New Republic. He is currently the poetry editor of the on-line magazine Slate.
Robert Hass is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 1995 to 1997. During his tenure, Professor Hass battled illiteracy by putting into action his belief that, "Imagination makes communities." He also sponsored a week long celebration of American nature writing called "Watershed." His commitment to environmental issues led him to found the River of Words poetry contest which is run through the International Rivers Network. Rita Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and served as the poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry between 1993 and 1995. She was the youngest person --and the first African American --to receive that honor. While Poet Laureate, Professor Dove brought a program of poetry and jazz to the Library's literary series, along with a reading by young Crow Indian poets and a two-day conference entitled "Oil on the Waters: The Black Diaspora."
The Millennium Evening is co-sponsored by the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Library of Congress with major support from Sun Microsystems, Inc. and further support from the Howard Gilman Foundation. The first Millennium Evening was held February 11, 1998, with Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn lecturing on core Americans ideas which must be preserved into the next Millennium. On March 6, 1998, Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking discussed "Imagination and Change: Science in the Next Millennium." Transcripts are available on the White House web site.