Poet Laureate to Lead Discussion With Folk Icon John Prine

Posted March 8, 2005 at 1:25pm

Poet Laureate Ted Kooser tonight will discuss music and poetry with acclaimed folk musician John Prine.

The program, sponsored by the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, will include a discussion between the songwriter and the poet as they compare and contrast the emotional appeal of the lyrics to popular songs with the appeal of contemporary poetry.

Following military service in Germany and a job with the U.S. Postal Service, Prine made his public debut in the early 1970s at an open mic session at a local bar, whose owner promptly hired him to entertain. Prine’s career moved from local singer-songwriter to national recording artist after actor Kris Kristofferson heard him perform at the Earl of Old Town music club in Chicago. In the 1980’s, he formed Oh Boy Records with longtime manager Al Bunetta and associate Dan Einstein, and has recorded several Grammy-nominated albums under the label. Prine won a Grammy for his 1991 album “The Missing Years,” which featured appearances by acclaimed music artists Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.

“I’ve been asked to do a lot of things, but this is definitely a first … so you can bet I’m looking forward to it — taking all these people in my songs to the Library of Congress and letting ’em look around a bit. It should be great, an honor, and everything else,” Prine said in a statement.

Kooser is the 13th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and a visiting English professor from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The author of 10 collections of poetry and the recipient of numerous awards, Kooser studied at both Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska. His book of essays titled “Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps” was chosen as the Best Book Written by a Midwestern Writer for 2002 by Friends of American Writers. His most recent book, “Delights and Shadows,” has received vast critical praise.

“I’ve been following John Prine’s music since his first album came out and have always been struck by his marvelous writing: its originality, its playful inventiveness, its poignancy, its ability to capture our times,” Kooser said in a statement.

“A Literary Evening With John Prine and Ted Kooser” takes place at 6:45 p.m. tonight in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. The event is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 5 p.m. There is a limit of two tickets per person and tickets will be distributed at the Information Desk.