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ENCORES: ‘Shakespeare’s Sisters’ Poetry Reading featuring Rita Dove (2012)

Folger Public Programs is pleased to present ENCORES, a weekly online series highlighting past performances and recalling the rich history of programming on the historic Folger stage. As many arts and cultural institutions remain closed during this time, these ENCORES provide a way to connect and revisit the breadth of Folger offerings with a wider audience.

ENCORES presents

O.B. Hardison Poetry Series
A reading celebrating the publication of Shakespeare’s Sisters: Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries
with Rita Dove
Recorded 2012
Part of the programming related to the exhibition Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers, 1500-1700

Rita Dove read her poems

  • Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting
    • Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries, published by the Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012.
  • The Sisters: Swansong
  • Hattie McDaniel Arrives at the Coconut Grove
    • Both from American Smooth, published by W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.
  • The Spring Cricket Considers the Question of Negritude
    • Published in Callaloo, 2012
  • Prose in a Small Space
    • Published in CUE A Journal of Prose Poetry, 2005

Listen to the entire reading, featuring Linda Gregerson, Elizabeth Nunez, Jacqueline Osherow, Linda Pastan, and Jane Smiley, here.

Read the introduction by Folger Poetry Board Chair, Gigi Bradford:

Hello and welcome to Folger ENCORES. I’m Gigi Bradford, the Chair of the Folger Poetry Board and I’m happy to speak to you today. The Folger has been sharing selections with you from their plays, music, readings and talks in this ENCORES series.

This week, we’re looking at Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries, a book, reading and exhibition inspired by the course for high school students developed by Louisa Newlin, in consultation with the Folger Poetry and Education Departments. Louisa named the course “Shakespeare’s Sisters” and our 2012 exhibition was developed from this initiative.

The title, “Shakespeare’s Sisters,” is inspired, in part, by an essay by Virginia Woolf. In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf imagined a sister for Shakespeare called Judith. She wanted to be a playwright like her brother, but was unable to pursue a career as a professional writer because of her gender.

Alongside the exhibition and the course that is still being taught at the Folger, we created a limited-edition hand-bound chapbook where contemporary writers responded to newly-discovered works by 16th and 17th century women writers. Among the 13 prominent women poets and authors who were part of this book were former U.S. Poets Laureate Maxine Kumin and Rita Dove, who also won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Maryland Poet Laureate Linda Pastan, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley. We brought many of these writers together at the Folger to read from their work, and here you will listen to Rita Dove reading the poem we commissioned for the Shakespeare’s Sisters chapbook, as well as other poems of her own.

Rita has been a longtime friend of the Folger, reading her poetry many times in our Elizabethan theater; always gracefully combining the personal and the cultural—which she does here so well—across the centuries.

We hope that you will enjoy hearing Rita Dove and please be sure to join us again for these weekly episodes of ENCORES, highlighting all that the Folger has to offer. Thank you.

Encores LogoCheck back each Friday for a new “from the archives” performance, introduced by some of our favorite artists, showcasing the best of Folger TheatreFolger ConsortO.B. Hardison Poetry, and lectures.

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