The National Endowment for the Arts Celebrates NEA Literature Fellows at the National Book Festival's Poetry & Prose Pavilion on September 21-22, 2013

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jamaica Kincaid are among the presenters

Washington, D.C. – The theme of this year's National Book Festival is "Books that Shaped the World," and at this year's Poetry and Prose Pavilion, many of the featured writers were shaped by the NEA Literature Fellowship program, one of the nation's most prestigious competitive awards for new and established authors. The Poetry & Prose Pavilion, sponsored by the NEA, is part of the Library of Congress's thirteenth annual literary festival, which takes place on September 21-22, 2013, on the National Mall in Washington, DC. 

The line-up of presenters at the Poetry & Prose Pavilion includes Amity Gaige (Schroder), Cristina García (King of Cuba), Albert Goldbarth (The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972-2007), Jamaica Kincaid (See Now Then), Natasha Trethewey (Thrall), Dean Young (Bender: New and Selected Poems), Nicholson Baker (Traveling Sprinkler), Benjamin Percy (Red Moon), Manil Suri (The City of Devi), Joyce Carol Oates (The Accursed), Heather McHugh (Upgraded to Serious), Alyson Hagy (Boleto), and Juan Felipe Herrera (Senegal Taxi (Camino del Sol)). 

Ten of the thirteen individual writers are NEA Literature Fellows (Cristina García, Albert Goldbarth, Jamaica Kincaid, Natasha Trethewey, Dean Young, Benjamin Percy, Joyce Carol Oates, Heather McHugh, Alyson Hagy, and Juan Felipe Herrera).

Also at the Poetry & Prose Pavilion, student state champions from the 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Finals will present. Invited to recite are Langston Ward, the 2013 National Champion and Washington State Champion, second-place winner and Maryland State Champion Blessed Sheriff, and National Finalist and Nebraska State Champion Russell Heitmann. The young champions will recite the classic and contemporary poetry that landed them in the top nine during this year's national poetry recitation contest. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.  

Visit the National Endowment for the Arts and Library of Congress websites for interviews with current and past Book Festival authors, audio clips, downloadable materials, and interactive features. The NEA (@NEAarts) will live-tweet from the NEA Poetry & Prose Pavilion via Twitter. Look for #NatBookFest – the official National Book Festival hashtag – to follow news from the festival.

Schedule of events for the NEA Poetry & Prose Pavilion:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

  Poetry Out Loud 
Amity Gaige 
Cristina García 
Albert Goldbarth 
amaica Kincaid 
Natasha Trethewey 
Dean Young 
Nicholson Baker

Sunday, September 22, 2013

  Benjamin Percy 
Manil Suri 
Joyce Carol Oates 
Heather McHugh 
Alyson Hagy 
Juan Felipe Herrera

The Poetry & Prose Pavilion is one of several pavilions where more than 100 writers, poets, and illustrators will discuss their work. Pavilions include Children, Teens, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Contemporary Life, Poetry & Prose. Two Sunday-only pavilions are Graphic Novels/Science Fiction and Special Programs. An estimated 210,000 people attended the festival in 2012. 

The 13th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held on the National Mall between 9th and 14th Streets on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 22 from noon to 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will run rain or shine.  For more information, contact the National Book Festival Information Line at 888-714-4696 or visit the National Book Festival website.

About the NEA Literature Fellowships

Literature Fellowships represent the National Endowment for the Arts' most direct investment in American creativity. The goal of the fellowships program is to encourage the production of new work and allow writers the time and means to write. Since 1968, the NEA has awarded 3,500 literature fellowships in prose, poetry, and translation. Literature fellowships are highly competitive, and the prose and poetry fellowships are selected through an anonymous, panel-review process for which the sole criterion for review is artistic excellence. These fellowships have resulted in more than 2,400 books, including many of the most acclaimed novels of contemporary American literature: Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, Oscar Hijuelos's The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, William Kennedy's Ironweed, and Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country.

The NEA has a strong track record of finding and supporting talent. Since 1990, 61 of the 103 recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA Literature Fellows. Most received NEA Literature Fellowships before any major national award, usually at least a decade earlier. You can learn more about recent NEA Literature Fellows and view samples of their work in the Writer's Corner section of the NEA website.

The NEA offers other grants and programs to support U.S. writers and connect them with communities. These include NEA grants to literary journals and presses, literary centers, reading series, festivals, writers-in-the-schools programs, libraries, and other literary organizations. Special NEA initiatives such as The Big Read and Poetry Out Loud offer model literary programs of artistic excellence and national reach.


Sally Gifford