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The Folger Spotlight

ENCORES: The Literary Legacy of Seamus Heaney (1991, 2014)

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 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
Selections from
The inaugural O.B. Hardison Poetry Board Reading, featuring Seamus Heaney (1991)
The Literary Legacy of Seamus Heaney, featuring Eamon Grennan (2014)

Seamus Heaney read his poems

  • Glanmore Sonnet VII & X, from Field Work, 1979
  • Clearances 2 & 8, from The Haw Lantern, 1987
  • Seeing Things III, from Seeing Things, 1991
  • Lightenings viii, from Seeing Things, 1991

Eamon Grennan read

  • Colum Cille Cecinit, by Seamus Heaney from Human Chain, 2010

All published by Faber & Faber,

Read the introduction by Folger Director of Programming, Janet Alexander Griffin:

Hello and welcome to Folger ENCORES. I’m Janet Griffin, the Folger’s Director of Programming. In this ENCORES series, we’ve been enjoying sharing selections from plays, music, talks and readings with you.

This week, we’re remembering the work and visits to the Folger of the remarkable Seamus Heaney. A Nobel Prize winner, Heaney read at the Folger on two occasions: in 1985, and then in 1991 for the first Folger Poetry Board Reading, now a 30 year tradition. That April 1991 evening was an unusually warm one in a completely packed Church of the Reformation—just across the street from the Folger.

In this special reading, supported by our most dedicated friends of Folger Poetry, the honored writer offers his or her work, but also the inspiring poems of others. It’s part of the joy of a long tradition of Folger presenting contemporary literature and nurturing a rich and diverse community of writers.

Heaney passed away in 2013, just months before he was to return to the Folger stage. But on April 7, 2014, the evening he had been scheduled to be with us, six premiere poets—three American and three Irish—gathered to recite his works and to celebrate his generous spirit. And at the end of this ENCORE, you’ll hear the poet Eamon Grennan remember his friend.

But first, we’re sharing for the first time a video recording of Seamus Heaney in April 1991, and you’ll enjoy the lyrical power of his poetry and his warm, compelling reading. And I hope you’ll experience, particularly as Heaney shares his short poem at the end, how we can experience the marvelous in our everyday lives.

Be sure to join us again for these weekly episodes of ENCORES, highlighting all the Folger has to offer. Thank you.

Check back each Friday for a new “from the archives” performance, introduced by some of our favorite artists, showcasing the best of Folger Theatre, Folger Consort, O.B. Hardison Poetry, and lectures.