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The Folger Spotlight

ENCORES: A selection from 'We Wear the Masks: Poetry and Fiction inspired by Comic Books' (2017)

Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness
Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness

Folger Public Programs is pleased to present ENCORES, a bi-weekly online series highlighting past performances and recalling the rich history of programming on the historic Folger stage. ENCORES provides a way to connect and revisit the breadth of Folger offerings with a wider audience.

ENCORES presents

O.B. Hardison Poetry Series
We Wear the Masks: Poetry and Fiction inspired by Comic Books, March 2017
co-sponsored by the PEN/FaulknerFoundation
with Manuel Gonzales, Yona Harvey, and Gary Jackson
Filmed on the set of As You Like It, scenic design by John McDermott
Learn more about the event on Folgerpedia

Manuel Gonzales reads from his novel, The Regional Office Is Under Attack.

To listen to the full reading, click here. This recording contains mature language and may not be suitable for all audiences.

The Ink Brick broadside for Manuel Gonzales can be viewed here.

Read the introduction by Folger Poetry Coordinator Teri Cross Davis:

Hello and welcome to Folger ENCORES! I’m Teri Cross Davis, the poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library. I’m happy to be able to speak with you today. The Folger has been sharing selections from their plays, music, talks and readings with you in this ENCORES series. In this episode we have put together a selection from the reading we did entitled We Wear The Masks: Poetry and Fiction Inspired by Comic Books.

PEN/Faulkner Fiction and the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series came together to explore the evolving influence that comic books have on writers. Authors Manuel Gonzales, Yona Harvey, and Gary Jackson read from their work and spoke about comics, poetry, and fiction in a post-reading conversation moderated by Dr. Tara Betts, Visiting Lecturer at University of Illinois-Chicago.

I have a confession to make. I have been a comic book fan for most of my life, particularly of the Uncanny X-Men during the mid-80s. I have often felt deeper themes resonating in those brightly colored pages, themes of isolation, race, gender, sexuality, identity brimming— sometimes boiling—over. After all, if you are five foot nine and covered in blue fur with a long tail, one can see you are different from miles away. But what about those whose differences were under the skin of “normality?” Comic books let the reader in on all the ways we can be human, even if the character in question isn’t exactly human. Poetry and fiction, too, scratch at the surface of this life, examining our humanity as one might evaluate metal for its indestructibility.

What you are about to hear is a section of fiction writer Manuel Gonzales’s book The Regional Office Is Under Attack. We’ve included Manuel’s introduction so that you can hear, in his own words, what is happening in this section.

Enjoy this little taste of We Wear the Masks and, if you’d like to listen to the whole reading, we’ve included information about the performance which is available on SoundCloud for free. If you like comics, like me, we have also linked to the Broadside that was created for the reading. Using handwritten poems and passages, the artists of Ink Brick, a micro-press for comic book poetry, created one-of-a-kind comic book broadsides for this performance.

Be sure to join again for these bi-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.