Get Thee to the Library!

Posted May 23, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

I will never forget the impact that Gwendolyn Brooks, Poet Laureate in 1985, had on me when she visited my high school and spoke to a small group of us in our school library.  She read a few poems, including ones from We Real Cool, and then answered questions.   One of the questions was about the Library of Congress.

She explained that the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, in terms of shelf space and number of books. It was built by Congress in 1800 and housed in the United States Capital until much of the collection was destroyed in the War of 1812.

Today the Library of Congress is housed in 3 different buildings and contains over 147 million items.  Although it is open to the public, only members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and high-ranking government officials, including the Poet Laureate, may check out books.

I remember Ms. Brooks sweeping her arms in an arc across my high school library and saying that we must fill the libraries of the world with books by all sorts of people, not just the ones we relate to easily.

Thank you, Ms. Brooks.

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools

Nature Writing Contest for Kids

Posted September 20, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

Cover of "River of Words: Young Poets and...

Cover via Amazon

2010 River of Words Watershed Art & Poetry Contest

Deadline: December 1, 2010

Each year, in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words conducts a free international poetry and art contest for youth on the theme of WATERSHEDS. The contest is designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live, and to express, through poetry and art, what they discover.

The contest is open to any child in the world, from 5-19 years of age. Older students must have not yet completed high school. There is no charge to enter. (See entry form.)

Students may enter on their own, or as part of a group (classroom, Girl Scout troop, 4-H, etc.). All entrants are receive acknowledgment in the form of a “Watershed Explorer” certificate. (See complete rules.)

Poetry submissions are judged by River of Words co-founders Robert Hass, who served as US Poet Laureate from 1995-1997, and writer Pamela Michael. Art entries are judged by children’s book writer and illustrator, Thacher Hurd.

About 100 poems and artworks from both US and international entries are selected as finalists each year. All winners receive ribbons, books and/or art supplies, t-shirts and other prizes.

Eight Grand Prize winners—four in poetry and four in art, in four different age categories—are chosen from the US entries.

Category I — Kindergarten-Grade 2

Category II — Grades 3-6

Category III — Grades 7-9

Category IV — Grades 10-12

We also award an International Prize each year to a student from outside the United States. The International Prize may be awarded for either poetry or art.

In addition, RoW and The Library of Congress Center for the Book honor two students who live in our respective watersheds: River of Words´ Shasta Bioregion Prize and The Library of Congress´ Anacostia Watershed Prize. The winning works may be either poetry or art.

Winners are announced each April at a gala event at the San Francisco Library. The Grand Prize and International winners win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC to attend the RoW Award Ceremony at The Library of Congress.

For more information click here.