National Endowment for the Arts to Support 20th National Book Festival, September 25-27, 2020

Colorful poster for the completely virtual 2020 National Book Festival

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


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

“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.”

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

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 passage of the 19th amendment.

Related Content

  • Literature Fellowships —Browse bios, photos, artist statements, and excerpts from manuscripts by NEA Literature Fellows in poetry, prose, and translation.
  • Poetry Out Loud websiteA national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country.
  • NEA Big Read website—This initiative annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.


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