(WASHINGTON, DC) During its 2011/12 season, the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series presents eight readings by seventeen exceptional poets, showcasing emerging voices alongside poetry’s brightest stars. Poet Gwendolyn Brooks said, “Poetry is life distilled.” In this 43rd season of poetry at the Folger Shakespeare Library, each reading will demonstrate the truth of Brooks’ definition of poetry—to purify everyday language, to extract and concentrate what is essential in life.
The season begins on September 19 with readings by Theo Dorgan and Paula Meehan, in a evening of contemporary Irish poetry. On October 4, Robert Pinsky, who served an unprecedented three terms as U.S. Poet Laureate, will present his award-winning work. On November 8, Mark Kraushaar receives The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and reads his work alongside prize judge James Fenton. Aracelis Girmay reads at the annual Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute on December 5. On February 9, in an event co-sponsored with and located at The Phillips Collection, Yusef Komunyakaa reads poems in response to the exhibit Snapshots: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard. Eavan Boland reads her work examining the meaning of womanhood on March 5, inspired in part by the Folger exhibition Shakespeare’s Sisters—on view January 21-May 14, 2012. In a special reunion tour, The Dark Room Collective, presents their award-winning body of work on April 30. To round out the season, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder presents the annual Folger Poetry Board Reading on May 14.
Each reading includes a moderated conversation to enlighten, engage, and entertain. A complimentary wine reception with book-signing follows each reading, providing audience members an opportunity to speak with the poets as they sign copies of their latest works.
An eight-reading season subscription is now on sale for $80—a 33% savings off individual ticket prices. Individual tickets go on sale on September 1 for $15 each. Subscriptions and individual tickets may be purchased at www.folger.edu/poetry or by calling the Folger box office at 202.544.7077.
The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series is one of the nation’s oldest poetry reading programs and is noted for featuring an extensive range of outstanding poets. The series was founded in 1970 when the late O.B. Hardison, Jr.—a renowned teacher, scholar, and poet—became director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and established many outreach programs to make the resources of the extraordinary research library available to the Washington community.
Major funding for the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series is provided by the Lannan Foundation, which sponsors readings at the Folger and at Georgetown University, as well as a collaborative undergraduate learning program with the Lannan Fellows.
O.B. HARDISON POETRY SERIES 2011/12
Unless otherwise noted, all readings take place at 7:30pm at the Folger Shakespeare Library, located at 201 East Capitol Street, SE, in Washington, DC. All readings include a moderated conversation, complimentary wine reception, and book sale and signing. Tickets are $15 each (or $80 for a season subscription) and may be purchased at the Folger box office at 202.544.7077 or www.folger.edu/poetry.
Monday, September 19
Theo Dorgan & Paul Meehan
Theo Dorgan is a poet, prose writer, editor, and translator. His latest poetry collections include Greek and What This Earth Costs Us. He has written scripts for film documentaries and worked as a presenter of literature programs on radio and television for more than 25 years. A former director of Poetry Ireland, he is the recipient of the 2010 Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Prize for Irish Poetry.
Paula Meehan is an award-winning Irish poet, playwright, and professor. Her books of poetry include Painting Rain, Return and No Blame, Pillow Talk, and Dharmakaya, among others. She is a recipient of the Butler Award for Poetry from the Irish American Cultural Institute.
This reading is presented with support from Imagine Ireland, an initiative of Culture Ireland.
Tuesday, October 4
Pinsky, who served an unprecedented three terms as United States Poet Laureate, teaches at Boston University and is the poetry editor of Slate. His books of poetry include Selected Poems, Gulf Music, Jersey Music, and The History of My Heart. He is also the author of the prose book The Life of David and is a well-known and award-winning translator. He has written several books about poetry including Poetry and the World, which was nominated for a National Books Critics’ Circle Award, and The Sounds of Poetry.
This reading is inspired in part by the Folger exhibition Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible, on view September 23–January 14, 2012.
Tuesday, November 8
The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize: Mark Kraushaar, with judge James Fenton
The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, created in honor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is awarded annually by Waywiser Press for a first or second collection of poems. The winner receives $3,000 and his or her collection is published on both sides of the Atlantic. Mark Kraushaar’s The Uncertainty Principle won the 2010 prize. He will be joined by this year’s judge, James Fenton.
Mark Kraushaar was born in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in many journals including the Hudson Review, Ploughshares, and The Gettysburg Review, and he received Poetry Northwest’s Richard Hugo Award. His earlier collection, Falling Brick Kills Local Man, was a finalist for the May Swenson Award, the Juniper Prize, and the Walt Whitman Award, and was published in 2009 by the University of Wisconsin Press as winner of the Felix Pollak Prize. He has been the recipient of two Wisconsin Arts Board Grants and a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship in 2010.
James Fenton has worked as a political journalist, drama critic, book reviewer, war correspondent, foreign correspondent, and columnist. A winner of England’s Newdigate Prize for poetry, he is the author of several volumes of poetry, including 2006’s Selected Poems. He also edited The New Faber Book of Love Poems and D. H. Lawrence's Selected Poems. He was an Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1994 to 1999 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Monday, December 5
Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute: Aracelis Girmay
Celebrating Dickinson’s influence on poetry in America, Girmay will read from her own works and those of Dickinson. Girmay is the author of the collage-based picture book changing, changing. Her first book of poems, Teeth, was nominated for a Connecticut Book Award. Most recently, her poetry collection Kingdom Animalia was awarded the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award. She has served as the visiting writer in the MFA program at Queens College, and she is on the faculty of Drew University's low-residency MFA program in Poetry. She is also an assistant professor of poetry at Hampshire College, where her office is in the Emily Dickinson Hall. This event is co-sponsored with The Poetry Society of America.
Thursday, February 9
Komunyakaa is the author of 13 poetry collections, including The Chameleon Couch, Taboo, Warhorses, and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize and a Kingsley Tufts Prize. He has also written Gilgamesh: A Verse Play and Slip Knot, a libretto. He was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 1999 and is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University's graduate creative writing program. This event is co-sponsored by The Phillips Collection and will take place in Phillips Auditorium, located at 1600 21st Street, NW in Washington, DC.
Komunyakaa will read his poems in response to images from The Phillips Collection exhibition Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard. Learn more about this exhibition at www.phillipscollection.org.
Monday, March 5
Boland has published ten volumes of poetry, including An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-87, Domestic Violence, and New Collected Poems. She is the recipient of the Lannan Award for Poetry and an American Ireland Fund Literary Award. In addition to her books of poetry, Boland has written volumes of essays Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time and the recent A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet; has edited an anthology of German women poets, After Every War; and co-edited The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. She directs the creative writing program at Stanford University.
This reading is inspired in part by the Folger exhibition Shakespeare’s Sisters, on view January 21–May 14, 2012.
Monday, April 30
Nothing Personal: The Dark Room Reunion Reading Tour
Founded in Boston in 1987 by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange, The Dark Room Collective began as an informal community of African American poets. It included a reading series which welcomed literary stars including Samuel Delany, bell hooks, Alice Walker, John Edgar Wideman, and Walter Moseley. The group has gone on to distinguished careers, winning literary achievements and awards, among them a Pulitzer Prize, a Whiting Foundation Award in Fiction and Poetry, a Whiting Foundation Award in Poetry, a Guggenheim fellowship, a James Laughlin Award, the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and many more. The esteemed collective, including Tisa Bryant, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Major Jackson, John Keene, Tracy K. Smith, Sharan Strange, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young, reunites for a series of readings in 2012.
Monday, May 14
Folger Poetry Board Reading: Gary Snyder
Snyder has published 16 books of poetry and prose, including No Nature: New and Selected Poems, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Axe Handles, for which he received an American Book Award; and Turtle Island, which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Other honors and awards for his writing include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Bollingen Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Ruth Lilly Award. Snyder was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2003. He is a professor of English at the University of California, Davis.