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The Folger Spotlight

ENCORES: 'Silence and Breath' with Kazim Ali and Kaveh Akbar (2018)

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. 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
Silence and Breath
with Kazim Ali and Kaveh Akbar
May 21, 2018
Learn more about this reading on Folgerpedia

Kaveh Akbar reads his poems

  • “Do You Speak Persian?”
  • “Vines”
  • “Despite My Efforts Even My Prayers Have Turned to Threats”

Kazim Ali reads his poems

  • “Ramadan”
    • From The Fortieth Day (2008), published by BOA Editions Ltd. (
  • “The Earthquake Days”
    • From Inquisition (2018), published by Wesleyan University Press (

Read the introduction by poet Gowri Koneswaran:

Hello and welcome to Folger Encores. I’m Gowri Koneswaran, and I’m so happy to be able to speak with you. Through the Encores series, the Folger has been sharing selections from its plays, music, and readings with us.

Today we are joining together to share some of the O.B. Hardison Poetry reading entitled Silence and Breath. This reading featured poets Kaveh Akbar and Kazim Ali and was co-sponsored by Kundiman, an organization that nurtures writers and readers of Asian American literature. I was honored to introduce and moderate a conversation between these two extraordinary writers.

During our evening together, Kaveh and Kazim explored the relationship between poetry and prayer, examining how silence and breath are situated in their writing. I hope you enjoy experiencing some of the poems they shared with us. Breathe in deeply as you listen. After all, another word for inhalation is inspiration. And please, join us again for these biweekly episodes of Encores, highlighting all that the Folger has to offer. Thank you.

Encores LogoCheck back every other 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.