Monday, November 12, 2012

Poetic Likeness Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit Poetic Likeness: Modern American Poets (through April 2013), offers viewers images – photographs, paintings, prints and more – of modern American poets. It was a joy to see.

Read through the website to learn more about the featured poets, see sample images, and hear a selection of recordings, too. 

On November 15th at noon, you might attend the Curator’sTour with Exhibition curator, museum historian, and published poet David C. Ward. (Search under Current Events for more tours.) David C. Ward discusses some of the choices he made for the exhibit in an interview:

The major question in thinking about “Poetic Likeness” was to come up with a time frame that would be coherent and interesting. For logistical reasons, the exhibition is based on our permanent collection. By far the strongest part of that collection when it comes to poetry is the modern era: roughly 1900 to the mid-1970s. We do have some earlier American poets, and I guess I could have done a “forerunner” room that included Joel Barlow or the poets in the Victorian era, which culminated with Longfellow. I just decided it made for a cleaner exhibition if it homed in on the modern era.

Conversely, I didn’t want to get too far beyond the 1970s into contemporary poets, because I think the cultural climate changes dramatically after the mid-1970s. Contemporary portraits would make up another exhibition entirely.

Like all Smithsonian Museums, The National Portrait Gallery is free. The museum is open from 11:30 am – 7:00 pm daily. Do make the time to see this lovely collection of poets and look into their eyes. And then perhaps go downstairs to the building’s central atrium to discuss poetry with friends – your own or published work? 

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