National Endowment for the Arts Announces Grant to Longfellow's Wayside Inn for New Poetry Program
National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner on pilot initiative celebrating nation's historic poetry sites
September 26, 2007
Washington, DC -- Today the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation will announce that Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts, will be the first grant recipient in a pilot initiative, a component of the NEA's Big Read, to celebrate great American poets and the nation's historic poetry locales. Longfellow's Wayside Inn will receive an inaugural NEA Chairman's Extraordinary Action grant of $15,000 to support a community-wide program to encourage multi-generational reading of the poetry of New England writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).
NEA Chairman Dana Gioia and Poetry Foundation President John Barr will announce the grant during an evening keynote presentation on Longfellow at Cambridge Forum at the First Parish Church, co-sponsored by the Longfellow National Historic site, the Poetry Foundation, and the Paul Revere House. This marks the second partnership for the NEA and the Poetry Foundation, which jointly present Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. Now in its third year, this national arts education program encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country.
"I am delighted to announce this new expansion of the Big Read to celebrate the deep connection between this great American poet and communities in which he lived. It's fitting that we announce this new program in Longfellow's own home in the heart of literary Massachusetts, a state with an extraordinary literary heritage," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Longfellow's poetry has helped to preserve and popularize much of that early heritage, and I look forward to working with the Poetry Foundation on further projects to reacquaint Americans with the depth of our nation's literary heritage."
Poetry Foundation President John Barr said, "Two hundred years of American history and culture found voice, face, and culmination in the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Poetry Foundation is delighted to join with the NEA in celebrating the work of this major American poet."
The Wayside Inn will kick off its Longfellow celebration on February 27, 2008, the poet's 201st birthday, with a keynote presentation. The program will continue through the April 19 Patriot's Day holiday, which commemorates the historic ride by Paul Revere immortalized in Longfellow's poem "The Landlord's Tale" from his collection Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). The Wayside Inn will host an array of activities throughout those six weeks, including community reading groups, and develop an on-line Longfellow Library with the poet's work and curriculum materials for teachers.
"The Trustees of Longfellow's Wayside Inn are ecstatic about this opportunity that has come from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. It is a great opportunity to educate our own community about the importance of the Wayside Inn in Longfellow's life and works and to remind people of his prominence as a poet," said Frederick M. Pryor, President of Longfellow's Wayside Inn's Board of Trustees. "We are working with Project Director Cindy Hall Kouré to provide fun and engaging programming that will reintroduce Longfellow's poetry to as many people and groups throughout Sudbury as possible."
Planned events also include a three-part lecture series with noted Longfellow historians and biographers, a lifelong learning course sponsored by the Sudbury Senior Center, and a musical presentation of Longfellow's poetry. Sudbury public elementary, middle, and high schools will participate by incorporating the poet's work into their curricula, hosting cultural assemblies, and presenting student-created multimedia projects.
The NEA will provide the Inn with supplementary materials -- underwritten by the Poetry Foundation -- similar to those created for the agency's national Big Read program. These materials include reader's and teacher's guides to Longfellow's works and a promotional poster. These materials also will be available to the public at two additional Longfellow historic sites: the Longfellow House (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House (Portland, Maine).
The NEA and the Poetry Foundation expect to announce additional grants for site-based poetry programs this fall. In addition, it's expected that a competitive phase of the program will launch at the conclusion of the pilot phase.
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts, please visit www.arts.gov.
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. For more information on the Poetry Foundation, please visit www. poetryfoundation.org.
A nationally significant historic property, Longfellow's Wayside Inn is the oldest operating Inn in the country, having served the public for almost 300 years. The Inn's history has been enriched by its strong association with important American icons that include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry Ford, and Pepperidge Farm. As a non-profit, the Inn welcomes an estimated 100,000 visitors every year from all over the world who come to experience Colonial hospitality within the pastoral setting of the 125-acre site. For more information on Longfellow's Wayside Inn, please visit www.wayside.org.
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