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The Folger Spotlight

Poetic Pairings: Anne Bethel Spencer and Pedro Ximenez

Shakespeare’s Sisters: Say Her Name celebrates the poetry of Black women in America. This virtual seminar and writing workshop for adults explores poets such as June Jordan, Ai, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Tracy K. Smith and others. From the Black Arts Movement to Cave Canem to recent Poet Laureates, these poets speak to the contemporary moment with many still alive and producing work.

We are pleased to bring you a special collaboration with DCanter wines, pairing a poem from the Shakespeare’s Sisters curriculum with a recommended wine each Monday of the seminar. Folger Poetry Coordinator and Shakespeare’s Sisters co-leader Teri Cross Davis provides context for the choices.

Our poem this week comes from Anne Bethel Spencer, a poet and activist. Though considered a Harlem Renaissance poet, Spencer spent her entire life living in Virginia, helping to revive the Lynchburg branch of the NAACP and serving as a librarian in Dunbar High School. The Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum in Lynchburg is included on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a Virginia Historic Landmark, a Friends of the Library USA Literary Landmark, and a Historic Landmark by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Grapes: Still-Life
by Anne Bethel Spencer

Snugly you rest, sweet globes,
Aged essence of the sun;
Copper of the platter
Like that you lie upon.

Is so well your heritage
You need feel no change
From the ringlet of your stem
To this bright rim’s flange;

You, green-white Niagara,
Cool dull Nordic of your kind,—
Does your thick meat flinch
From these…touch and press your rind?

Cacao, there, so close to you,
Is the beauty of the vine;
Stamen red and pistil black
Thru the curving line;

Concord, the too peaceful one,
Purpling at your side,
All the colors of his flask
Holding high in pride…

This, too, is your heritage,
You who force the plight;
Blood and bone you turn to them
For their root is white.

A celebrated gardener herself, we hope that Anne would approve of this week’s recommended wine, which was created through innovation inspired by the exceptional quality of a particular Chilean grape.

Colectivo Mutante Pedro Ximenez PX #1 2020

From: Coquimbo Valley, Chile

Description: Smelling of crisp citrus fruit with wet limestone minerality, this wine is a bit savory on the palate with a touch of saline and honeydew, apricot, and fresh flowers.

Pairs with: Pour a glass next time you have sushi or pair with any fresh shellfish or mild cheeses.

In the cooler valleys of Chile, winemakers have been utilizing the Pedro Ximenez grape varietal for generations to make pisco, a type of brandy or distilled spirit. When two friends found a particular vineyard site growing exceptional grapes, they couldn’t help but experiment with making a dry, still wine. Their experimentation paid off, giving us a refreshing, crisp, and almost savory wine that has us craving sushi or ceviche. —Beth Richman, DCanter

DCanter logoDCanter: A Wine Boutique is a wine retailer located on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, specializing in sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines from small producers around the world as well as fun, yet informative, wine education. Their selections are available in-store, online, or through a personalized wine shopping service known as Concierge by DCanter. Visit them at to learn more.

Shakespeare’s Sisters: Say Her Name continues this week, exploring Anne Bethel Spencer and poets of the Harlem Renaissance. You can still join us for our current session by calling the box office 202.544.7077. Register online for our second session beginning November 3, 2021.