It’s been a busy two days for Carmen Giménez Smith. Yesterday, she spent a good chunk of her time at the national offices and studios of NPR. She attended the morning pitch meeting for All Things Considered as preparation for her assigned task: to write a poem that would somehow aim to weave in/engage some of the day’s top stories. The initiative, “NewsPoet,” is produced and edited by Ellen Silva, with whom we had the pleasure of dining last night near Dupont Circle. Carmen is the fifth poet tapped to write such a poem. She was preceded by Tracie K. Smith, Craig Morgan Teicher, Kevin Young, and Monica Youn. You can see and hear the results HERE.
When Letras Latinas learned, a few weeks ago, that Carmen would be in town for her NPR gig, we decided to jumpstart an initiative that’s been in the discussion phase for some time now: recording U.S.-based, Letras Latinas-affiliated writers for the “Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape.” The archive was “begun in 1943 by then assistant chief of the Hispanic Division Francisco Aguilera (1899 – 1979) to record on magnetic tape original voice recordings of selections of writings of contemporary poets and prose writers.” Learn more about this initiative here.
The Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress is headed by Georgette Dorn, who suggested, a few months back, with Letras Latinas' assistance, adding new writers to the archive. For this pilot gesture, Letras Latinas counted on the crucial direction and collaboration of Catalina Gomez, who met Carmen and I this morning at the information desk of the Jefferson Building and escorted us to the recording studio. Once the sound technician got everything ready, Catalina introduced Carmen, who, after brief introductory remarks, read from her four published books (three poetry, one prose). Carmen's reading was also video recorded. Altogether, the session lasted nearly an hour.
Carmen and Catalina preparing to record.
Carmen Giménez Smith
View of the monitor in the lounge next door
Carmen reading from her work.
After the recording session, we were met by Rob Casper, the director of the LOC's Poetry and Literature Center, and his assistant Caitlin, who took us on a brief tour of the Poetry and Literature Center's office and reception lounge:
"Silhouette of Carmen with Views of the Washington Monument
and Capitol Dome," aka, "The View from the Poetry Room."
Quote of the Day (by Rob Casper).
"The offices of the Poetry and Literature Center are like poetry:
nobody knows they're there;they are hard find;
but once you arrive, the view is spectacular..."