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Shakespeare's Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries


Shakespeare's Sisters

Shakespeare's Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries (2012) is a collection of new works by thirteen prominent women poets and authors—among them, former U.S. poets laureate Rita Dove and Maxine Kumin and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jane Smiley.  In this limited edition, handbound chapbook, each writer responds to works by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women writers.

Among those voices:

  • Jane Smiley, whose story "Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, Gives Desdemona Advice," reimagines Othello in letters between sixteenth-century writers Marguerite de Navarre and Vittoria Colonna and Shakespeare's Desdemona
  • Rita Dove, on the future Elizabeth I, writing with a diamond on a window while confined at a lodge at the direction of her sister, Mary I
  • Rosanna Warren, who urges the sixteenth-century poet Mary Sidney, creator of stunningly varied Psalm translations, to "translate us too"
  • Maxine Kumin, in "Sonnets Uncorseted," on the prolific seventeenth-century poet and author Margaret Cavendish
  • Elizabeth Nunez, on echoes of past literary salons in her grandmother's and other women's "Bloomsbury groups" in 1940s to 1960s Trinidad
  • And still more from Elizabeth Alexander, Eavan Boland, Linda Gregerson, Jane Hirshfield, Marie Howe, Heather McHugh, Jacqueline Osherow, and Linda Pastan

Shakespeare's Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries was inspired by the exhibition Shakespeare's Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers 1500–1700 (February 2–May 20, 2012), a part of "Celebrating 1000 Years of Women Writers," a project of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Title page. Shakespeare's Sisters.

Table of contents. Shakespeare's Sisters.

Maxine Kumin."Sonnets Uncorseted." Shakespeare's Sisters.

An excerpt from ...

Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting by Rita Dove

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