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The Folger Spotlight

Poetic Pairings: Margaret Walker and Equality Vines

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.

Today’s poem comes from Margaret Walker, a poet and author associated with the Chicago Black Renaissance of the 1930s and 1940s. This poem, “I Want to Write,” was Walker’s first published poem, appearing in the magazine The Crisis when Walker was just 19.

I Want to Write
by Margaret Walker

I want to write
I want to write the songs of my people.
I want to hear them singing melodies in the dark.
I want to catch the last floating strains from their sob-torn throats.
I want to frame their dreams into words; their souls into notes. I want to catch their sunshine laughter in a bowl; fling dark hands to a darker sky and fill them full of stars then crush and mix such lights till they become a mirrored pool of brilliance in the dawn.

Walker would go on to publish a book of poetry, For My People, in 1942 which continues the work of this poem by celebrating and giving voice to the Black American experience. It won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition, making her the first Black woman to win a national writing prize.  Her novel, Jubilee, won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award. She was inducted into The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in 2014.

In 1997, Walker published a book of essays, On Being Female, Black, and Free, reflecting on her experiences with the Civil Rights movement, raising a family, and as a Black female artist. We see that spirit echoed in this week’s wine pairing, Equality Vines Rosé the Riveter 2019.

Equality Vines Rosé the Riveter 2019 

From: Forestville, CA

Description: The aromatics lead off with wild strawberry, watermelon and mandarin blossom. The palate is right in the ‘Goldie locks zone’ racy without being austere, and silky without loosing it’s balance of juicy acidity.

Pairs with: A food friendly wine, Rosé the Riveter adapts well to almost any meal.

The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter needs no introduction. She became a symbol for strong, independent women and, to this day, motivates all in the continuing fight for women’s equality. What better way to represent the heroes of civil rights than with Rosie and Rosé! Equality Vines founders Matt Grove and Jim Obergefell paved a new path creating delicious wines that not only tell their own story, but directly support various organizations that fight for equality and justice for all. For every bottle of the Rosé the Riveter sold, $2 is donated to the YWCA to help empower women and eliminate racism. —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.

This week,  Shakespeare’s Sisters: Say Her Name looks at the feminist and Civil Rights movements in the first half of the twentieth century.  Register online for our second session, beginning next week on November 3, 2021.