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Robert Penn Warren, U.S. Poet Laureate: A Resource Guide

American poet Robert Penn Warren served as U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 1986-1987 at the Library of Congress. This guide provides access to selected print and online resources related to Warren’s life and work.


Robert Penn Warren, U.S. Poet Laureate, 1986-1987; U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1944-1945. Photo courtesy of Department of Library Special Collections, Western Kentucky University.

On February 26, 1986, Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin announced the appointment of Robert Penn Warren as the first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. In making the appointment, Dr. Boorstin said of Warren, who had previously served as Consultant in Poetry (the position's previous title) from 1944-45:

Robert Penn Warren is a characteristically American man of letters in the range and versatility of his writings and in his feelings for the promise and the frustrations of American life. He has high attainments in poetry, fiction, criticism, and social commentary.... If there is any person today whose work unites our American in its splendid variety, that person is Robert Penn Warren.

Warren took up his duties in fall 2019, opening the Library’s annual literary season on October 6 with a reading of his work in the Coolidge Auditorium. He served one term as poet laureate, finishing his duties in spring 1987.

This guide provides an overview of print and online resources related to Robert Penn Warren's life and work. To suggest additions to this guide, please contact the Researcher and Reference Services Division.

Contact Information for Robert Penn Warren

If you would like to contact Robert Penn Warren please direct your inquiries as suggested below:

  • Permissions Requests: Contact the publisher of the poem or work written by Robert Penn Warren that you'd like to use.
  • Reference Questions: Use the Library's Ask a Librarian service.