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Shakespeare Unlimited podcast

Rita Dove on Shakespeare and Her Poem of Welcome for the Folger

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 228

When the Folger reopens on June 21 and you come to take a walk in our new west entrance garden, look down. There, you’ll see a new poem, written for the Folger by former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove.

Dove joins us on the podcast to read that poem aloud for the first time. Plus, she reflects on how writing for marble is different from writing for the page, and remembers the moment she discovered Shakespeare. Rita Dove is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

Listen to Shakespeare Unlimited on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Rita Dove portrait, 2021. Photo by Fred Viebahn.

Rita Dove served as the US Poet Laureate for two terms, from 1993 to 1995, and as a special bicentennial consultant to the Library of Congress in 1999. Her third collection of poetry, Thomas and Beulah, won the Pulitzer Prize. She is the only poet ever to receive both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of the Arts, from presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In 2021, she received the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters—the first African American poet in the medal’s history. She teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Dove has also read in the Folger’s O.B. Hardison Poetry series four times, and contributed a poem to our 2012 collection Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published January 30, 2024. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This episode was produced by Matt Frassica. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits our transcripts. We had technical help from With Good Reason, Virginia Humanities, and Voice Trax West in Studio City, California. Final mixing services provided by Clean Cuts at Three Seas, Inc.

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MICHAEL WITMORE: Sometimes, your words really are set in stone. We gave Rita Dove the challenge of writing a poem that could outlast us all.

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger Director.

Libraries, museums, galleries… they can look intimidating. Unwelcoming. Even if the people running the place really want everyone to feel welcome, sometimes the architecture itself tells a different story.

So, when we here at the Folger started thinking about designing a new public entrance to our building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, we wanted it to be as inviting as possible. To look and feel like a place that anyone could wander in off the street, whether they’d planned to visit or not. To make it clear that the Folger exists to share the love of art, history, and literature with everyone.

Eventually, that got us thinking: what if the building could literally invite passersby inside? And what better way for the Folger to introduce itself than with a poem? It could be engraved in stone along the edge of the new garden we had planned for the west entryway.

Rita Dove was the natural choice for this task. Dove served as the US Poet Laureate for two terms, from 1993 to 1995, and as a special bicentennial consultant to the Library of Congress in 1999. Her third collection of poetry, Thomas and Beulah, won the Pulitzer Prize. She’s the only poet ever to receive both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of the Arts, from presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In 2021, she received the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters—the first African American poet in the medal’s history. She teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Dove also has a long history with the Folger. She has read in our O.B. Hardison Poetry series four times, and she contributed a poem to our 2012 collection Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries. We couldn’t think of anyone better suited to welcome the Folger’s visitors for the next hundred years of its existence.

Rita Dove’s conversation with Barbara Bogaev opens with her reading of the poem she wrote for the west entrance.



Clear your calendars. Pocket your notes.
Look up into the blue amplitudes,
sun lolling on his throne, watching clouds
scrawl past, content with going nowhere.
No chart can calibrate the hush that settles
just before the first cricket song rises;
no list will recall a garden’s embroidery,
its fringed pinks and reds, its humble hedges.
Every day is Too Much or Never Enough,
so stop fretting your worth and berating
the cosmos – step into a house where
the jumbled perfumes of our human potpourri
waft up from a single page.
You can feel the world stop, lean in, and listen
as your heart starts up again.

BARBARA BOGAEV: Oh, I’m so excited. Had you read that before, out loud? Was this the first time?

DOVE: I have never. Yes, this is the first time I’ve actually read it aloud because, when I was composing it, I was thinking of it on the scrim. On that berm, the concrete berm, and imagining people hearing it in their head.

I didn’t want it to sound like a pronouncement. I wanted it to sound like the thoughts that jumble through our heads as we go about our daily business.

BOGAEV: Oh, I love that. The everydayness of it. Now that you’ve had the poem in your mouth, do you have any different impressions or thoughts?

DOVE: Well, it’s interesting because now that I have it in my mouth, I realize there are words which are actually very difficult to say out loud.

BOGAEV: Like “scrawl.”

DOVE: “Scrawl.” And then that coming after “loll”, “lolling.” But in our head, there’s no problem. Visually, there’s no problem.

There’s the L’s and the, you know, “amplitude” and “blue” and “calendars.” All that stuff flows really easily in our heads as thoughts but not as something that we articulate aloud.

And there’s so much that goes on in our interior lives that never reaches the surface, even as we walk into, say, the Folger Shakespeare Library, right? That I wanted to capture that moment when things begin to switch, when one becomes aware of one’s thoughts.

BOGAEV: It’s so interesting, living with the poem in your ears. It never occurred to me, of course, “scrawl” and “crawl.” I just didn’t really experience the crawl-ness of that word: of “scrawl.” But what really hits me and hit me when I read it—I just wanted to thank you so much for the first line, “Clear your calendars, pocket your notes.”

I mean, I feel as if before I even enter the Folger, enter the building, that you have taken such a load off my back and you freed my mind, I think, to encounter Shakespeare, and really everything else in the Folger or any library or any book, for that matter. To approach it with a fresh, open mind.

DOVE: Thank you. I mean, this is the feeling I get every time I enter a library. A feeling of, “Well, now the calendar doesn’t matter for the time I’m in here.” You know, “The notes don’t matter for that time.”

I also realized, though, that the Folger Shakespeare Library sits really at the epicenter of Washington, DC. It’s a place where there’s going to be a lot of hustle and bustle around it. It might be more difficult to clear those calendars and pocket those notes before you walk in. I thought, “Let me just tell them to do it.”

BOGAEV: It really is a city—Washington—of agendas, right?

DOVE: Yes. Oh, absolutely.

BOGAEV: And you’re clearing them. I love that. Taking you out of time. And you also encourage people to look up at the sky: “the blue amplitudes.” And I was thinking the inscription is on a very low curb.

So were you thinking about how people walk looking down at the ground sometimes, or at the flowers of the garden. And were you trying to prompt them to just look above or beyond their immediate surroundings?

DOVE: I’m so glad that you noticed that because that was one of my ideas. That though we’re walking and looking down and, you know, catching this inscription on the berm. To actually stop physically and look up into the blue amplitudes, means that one also has to slow down. Because you have to stop in order to look up and then continue with reading the inscription.

That was one of my, you know, a way of directing the body as well as the thoughts.

BOGAEV: It’s a wonderful physical beginning, and I always think of a library as it’s a reorientation. Reorient yourself in space, in your intellect, and in history.

DOVE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BOGAEV: So, let’s go back to the beginning of this assignment. What was your first thought when Mike Witmore, the director of the Folger, asked you to write a poem that would encircle the garden and welcome people into the Folger?

DOVE: Oh, my first thought was, “Wow.” First of all, just thinking this… it opened up so many possibilities for the way in which a poem can work on a person.

I did think, pretty early on, that though the words will be printed, so to speak, let’s say. You know, they’re going to be on that stone. They’re going to be inscribed, they’re going to be indented, and that that matters, too. I remember thinking that.

I also remember thinking, I need to know exactly what foliage, what flowers are in that garden, so that I can surround myself with the way in which, you know, any passerby would experience that garden.

It was an immediate yes for me, even though I knew it was going to be exceedingly difficult. Because also I realized that people may not start at the beginning. It would be wonderful if they would start at, “Clear your calendars,” but it’s very possible someone could be walking into the library and happened to notice it at the point of, “Every day is too much,” or, “No chart can calibrate.” So that was another challenge that actually thrilled me.

BOGAEV: So that means that… what did that mean to you? Did every thought have to stand alone? Every line in space?

DOVE: Well, it’s not that they have to stand alone in space because, of course, you could round a corner and come up with, “lean in” or something like that. But that every phrase should be interesting. Every phrase should in some way make you stop, back up, and try to figure out where it begins.

That was a great challenge. You know, certainly something like, “No list can recall a garden’s embroidery,” stands by itself, but, “waft up from a single page,” kind of doesn’t. But it makes you want to turn around and say, “What wafts up from a single page?”

BOGAEV: Yeah, what’s she talking about? What’s the curb saying to me?

DOVE: So that was—it was really fun to try to figure that out. And then, after finishing the poem, deciding on things to actually be in conversation with the architects who were going to actually put it on the berm. Then have discussions about where should the corner be: What word is going to be on either side of the southwest corner, or something like that.

That was also fascinating because sometimes I was like, it had nothing to do with my actual line endings on the page sometimes, right? We had great discussions about where the seam of the concrete, between which two words is it going to fall, and how do we turn the corner?

In fact, we did make… I made a suggestion and edited, took out a word because I did not like the way in which it rounded the corner.

BOGAEV: I mean, it’s kind of… it’s like a Rubik’s Cube or something that you were doing because you had all these requirements, right? You have this… it had to be run in one line, encircling the garden on a berm and it had 90 degree corners.

It’s intended to invite people into a building full of Shakespeare. And just, I don’t know… it’s like a crossword puzzle. Where did you even begin?

DOVE: Well, first of all, I’m such a fan of crossword puzzles. And that may be why I immediately said yes to this. But where did I begin? You know what, the first thing I did was to try to imagine myself walking into the library. I mean, to really, in all of the ramifications of that scenario.

So, tried to imagine what the ambiance was of the street. You know, how many people would be walking along. What does one see when you approach the library. What flowers were there? what smells could possibly be there?

I’ve always been impressed by the skies above Washington, DC, because Washington, being not a real skyscraper town at all, you can see the sky wider than you can in a lot of cities. So I wanted to get that in. That’s where I started.

I did not, you know, think consciously at the beginning about rounding corners or anything like that. I simply thought, “Get into the moment, the space, and let’s walk into the library. What will one hear? What will one…” you know? And then I started to write.

And, I knew I had 600 characters. That was kind of terrifying. But the first drafts were simply writing. Then, I tried to… then I started measuring the words so I could get a sense of how much ink on a page would equal 600 characters.

BOGAEV: Oh yeah, now you’re talking to me, the radio person, because we have to do this all the time. But Mike Witmore had told you it has to be exactly 600 characters because of the space, the size of the garden. I was thinking as a poet, you’re used—like a radio person—you’re used to strict rules about all sorts of things. Obviously, meter and line and length and all that. Why was it terrifying?

DOVE: It was terrifying because I think that, though in writing poetry there are rules, they are rarely coming down to characters. You know, it’s usually the beat. It’s usually at some kind of, you know, tetrameter, pentameter, or lines.

What I also tried to do is, I went back and looked at some of my poems that were finished that I thought were about 600 characters. And I, you know, measured them.

I tried to find a poem that was about 600 characters so that I could have a sense visually on the page what 600 characters looked like. So that became my form, in a way that sonnets are forms. In a way that all sorts of things are: quatrains. You know, things like that.

So, I had a sense of what the form—which is a new form, I guess, it has its own rules. That’s something that I think most writers, particularly poets, also come up against all the time, which is that you, if you’re writing in a formal sense—if you’re writing a sonnet or you’re writing a villanelle or something like that—the thrill becomes not to fill the form, but to push up against it and still satisfy it.

Sometimes you break it because, you know, it just doesn’t work that way, but you know that you’ve tried your best. That was what I decided to do with this.

BOGAEV: I was thinking, writing an inscription is very different from writing a poem in some ways. You are our U.S. Poet Laureate—two-time U.S. Poet Laureate—and you have been a public poet in many phases in your career, so you’re used to doing these public-facing things. But what special considerations come into play in the fact that it’s an inscription, it’s on marble, it’s on stone?

The idea that this was inscribed on marble was perhaps the most difficult aspect of this project or this poem that I faced because it felt so absolutely permanent. To do a poem that is intended for a public presentation is different because one has the option of tone. One has the option of the human voice moving through it and warming the air, so to speak.

Whereas to be inscribed in marble, it seems like the words can freeze into the stone. So, the idea is how to—for me—the idea was how do you warm up those words so that they seem to be speaking to you as opposed to either shouting at you or just resting there in peace?

BOGAEV: That’s so interesting. Marble is so cold. I mean, it’s the, “Voice of history,” intoning at you.

DOVE: Yeah.

BOGAEV: So how do you warm it up?

DOVE: I don’t know. I mean, I kept trying. You know, I think first of all, to talk to the person who is reading it so that the passerby or the person going into the library will feel like someone is speaking to them, not speaking at them. Not speaking over them, but saying directly to them, “Clear your calendars.” Or, “Stop fretting your worth and berating the cosmos,” and to use words that both the elevated words or words that seem like they could appear on marble, such as “song” or “amplitude” even, or “human.” But also use words that you don’t ever see on marble, like “fretted,” you know?

BOGAEV: “Potpourri.”

DOVE: Or, “potpourri.”

BOGAEV: How did you think, though, about the voice? Because it’s not Rita Dove speaking to you from the curb, right?

DOVE: No, no, I don’t…

BOGAEV: Or, did you consider that? Like, how did you think about voice?

DOVE: It’s interesting because I… when I finished the poem, I actually had two versions of the poem. I sent both versions to Mike Witmore, though I had an inkling and I preferred this one. The other one actually had a first person in it. So it was, you know—I don’t even remember what it was like, but that was one way of getting into it.

The idea for me was that, like, as you said, it wasn’t Rita Dove speaking. But it was more like that voice in the side of our head urging us to be towards health and towards happiness saying, you know, “Stop the fretting. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.”

It’s really more of that conscience that says, “You’re going into this space. Can you please, for an instant, put away all the stress and enjoy the wealth that you’re going to find there?”

BOGAEV: I was… that’s interesting. But I also thought maybe it was the building talking to me.

DOVE: It could very well be the building. Yes, it could be the building, which is also kind of wonderful because I wanted to honor the space too. I wanted to honor the beauty of this new re-imagining of the garden and the entrance to the Folger Shakespeare.

What I have always loved about the Folger Shakespeare Library is just walking into it and the way in which the walls seem to surround you and welcome you. There is a great magic in the space that’s created through the architecture.

So, you know, for the person going in, is it their own voice? Is it the voice of the building? Are they maybe the same? That’s all immaterial. It all becomes one.

BOGAEV: I have to ask you my Shakespeare questions. I have to leave some time for that. You go way back with Shakespeare, it sounds like. What’s your earliest memory of his work?

DOVE: Well, my earliest memory of Shakespeare actually was not on the page. I would hear my mother sometimes quoting Shakespeare. I thought that she was just waxing poetic. I had no idea. It must have been about eight, nine, something like that.

She would be slicing the roast for dinner, and then she would say, “Is this the dagger I see before me?” And I thought, “Oh, okay. Mom’s just doing…”

BOGAEV: Did you think she was losing her mind?

DOVE: No, not at all. Not at all. I did not think she was losing her mind. I just thought she was being dramatic. Then, if she was really tired, she’d go, “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace.”

These are things, of course, she had learned in school because people memorized things those days and she loved poetry. So, she would say them.

Then I, when I was about 10, 11, something like that, I remember crawling up on the sofa in the solarium on the armrest in order to reach the top shelf. Because there was this huge two-volume Shakespeare up there. I didn’t know who Shakespeare was, but it was the biggest book in the house and I thought, “I’m going to read this book.”

So I pulled it down and I just started to read. And, no one said to me, “Oh, you can’t understand that.” And, of course, there were things I didn’t understand, but there was a lot I did. Then, I came across those very quotations that my mother had been, you know, spouting. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is real.”

BOGAEV: That’s such an intimate way to come to Shakespeare. I love that.

DOVE: Yeah, it’s just—it was so wonderful because then I wasn’t afraid at all of the words that I didn’t know. I had been living with Shakespeare before that.

BOGAEV: I love this poem you have about reading Shakespeare, and also other reading, and the snacks that you associate with different reading. It’s in your poem, “In the Old Neighborhood. “

And you have the line, “The gritty slick of sardines and silted bones of no consequence disintegrating on the tongue.” That was Romeo and Juliet, strangely enough. That’s a quote from your poem. So wonderful. And also, you associate Candy Buttons with Brenda Starr, the comic.

DOVE: The comic, yes.

BOGAEV: Brenda Starr, great, longtime love of mine. But Fig Newtons for King Lear?

DOVE: Fig Newtons for King Lear.

BOGAEV: Why Fig Newtons for King Lear?

DOVE: It seemed so right. And, of course, it was chance. I mean, I happened to be eating Fig Newtons when I was reading King Lear, but it seemed about right. I mean, just that longing for sweetness at the center of this crumbly exterior. Having it be not quite sweet and sticking to the top of your, the roof of your mouth. It all felt so right.

And, of course, bitter lemon. To drink bitter lemon with Othello was just spot on.

BOGAEV: Yeah, that is. But Macbeth demanded dry bread.

DOVE: Yes. I remember actually, as I was reading Macbeth—and that was a hard one. As I was reading it and I went to get a snack and I thought, “I can’t do anything else but something that, like dry bread. Something that austere and desolate.”

BOGAEV: Yeah, it’s such a spare play. You’ve already said how you kind of just grew up with Shakespeare, not even knowing it was Shakespeare. And then you had this organic introduction to him or discovery of them. But so many people feel there’s a social bias that keeps them out of Shakespeare, or that language does, or the academy, and that they’re not welcome or worthy enough to understand the work and to feel ownership of Shakespeare.

Did you ever struggle with any of that? And, I know you’re a teacher too, so is that something that you deal with, with your students?

DOVE: Well, I have dealt with that feeling in Shakespeare, that Shakespeare is somehow above, you know, their understanding, with my students. And it’s… I feel so sad about that, because I did come at Shakespeare, of course, a very different way. In an unorthodox way. And I was lucky to have come, I think, to Shakespeare that way.

I find that the best advice that I can give to someone who is struggling with Shakespeare is to—well, there’s two pieces of advice. First of all, to remember, if they can, how a child accumulates language, and how a child will figure out all the nuances of words that they don’t know until they know them. So, if you hit a word that you don’t know, or you hit a syntactical twist or arrangement in Shakespeare that is unusual, just go with the flow and it will work itself out. That’s the one piece of advice.

Another piece of advice is—actually, I’m trying to remember who said it. It was Shirley MacLaine, I believe. Yes. Who said that, you know, in the Actor’s Studio when she was working on Shakespeare, what she did was, she was told just speak it as if you were talking to your best friend. Just talking. Don’t try to intone and do all that kind of stuff. Just talk it out loud.

And I’ve discovered that, that with students, if they just say it, you know, just say, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” That it suddenly becomes real and they can hear it.

BOGAEV: It’s a really good advice for any acting, really, and for poetry, too. I mean, poetry can make you feel shut out as well.

DOVE: I think that yes, poetry can, because I think unfortunately many of us have been, kind of, educated to think that we have to have the right answer to a poem. As if it’s a test, instead of, you know, an expression of your feelings or your emotions.

Therefore, we enter the poem, we start reading it with trepidation. With this feeling of, you know, “Well, if I don’t understand a word, if I don’t understand a phrase quite, then I’ve already failed.” And that’s no way to read anything, frankly.

The idea is just to read and enjoy. And, what you don’t enjoy or what you don’t understand, just keep going. Or, you know, say, “This one’s not for me.”

BOGAEV: Well, here’s one of your poems that I’ve done that with because I keep on trying to understand it better. It’s another poem that you’ve written for the Folger. It was for a Folger book published in connection with the 2012 exhibition: Shakespeare’s Sisters, Voices of English and European Women, 1500 to 1700.

And you wrote this poem—here I am telling you your whole life story—but you wrote this poem called “Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting.” And just to give the background, it is in the voice of—or it is about Elizabeth I.

And you place the poem where Elizabeth was imprisoned as a young girl. And she wrote a poem on a shutter with charcoal, and she also scratched an inscription on the window with a diamond ring.

Could you read that poem for us and tell us first a little bit about what led you to the idea for it?

DOVE: Sure. This poem, “Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting,” is exactly as you said. Spoken in Queen Elizabeth I’s voice when she was kind of under house arrest, I guess you could say, in 1554 at the lodge at Woodstock.

She had begun to scratch on the, as you said, on the glass with a diamond ring. Which I find kind of an amazing moment, that using this piece of great wealth and sign of opulence to scratch. To be able to articulate some moments of her soul.

So, the language in this poem is kind of Elizabethan. I will read the poem: “Lines Composed on the Body Politic: An Accounting.”

Less than the charting of each dawn’s resolutions,
less than each evening’s trickle of doubt,
less than a crown’s weight in silver, a diamond’s
scratch against glass, less than the touted

ill luck of my rich beginnings—and yet
more than Eve’s silence, my mute ingratitude.
More than music’s safe passage, its rapturous net,
more than this stockpile of words, their liquid solicitude;

more desired than praise (the least-prized of my dreams),
less real than dreaming (castle keep for my sins),
more than no more, which seems
much less than hoped-for, again—

one mutiny, quelled; one wish lost, a forgotten treasure:
to live without scrutiny, beyond constant measure.”

The poem is an accounting. She’s actually saying something in the ledger books, you know, of what is worthy in her life. “Some things are less, and some things are more.”

Then at the end of the sonnet, she also puts down some very physical things like, “One mutiny quelled,” and then the “wish lost,” but the thing that she can’t measure is to live without scrutiny, which is, of course, for someone of—who was supposedly royal, that is the one curse you can never doff to.

BOGAEV: Right, she’ll never have that.


BOGAEV: That’s so helpful to think of it in terms of a ledger, the pluses and the minuses. The debts and the assets. The accounting. You would fill your time with that. Those long, long days that she spent under house arrest. You are putting yourself in the position of the prisoner and her many, many experiences.

DOVE: Yes, I was putting myself into her skin. In fact, anytime when I’m writing a poem that’s a persona poem—a poem written in someone else’s voice—I find myself disappearing into their head, actually.

BOGAEV: Well, here’s another Shakespeare poem: “Blues in Halftones, ¾ Time.” It’s fun because it weaves together a bunch of Shakespeare easter eggs, I guess you’d call them. Could you read this one too?

DOVE: Sure.

BOGAEV: Oh, thank you so much.

DOVE: Okay. “Blues in Halftones, ¾ Time.”

From nothing comes nothing,
don’t you know that by now?
Not a thing for you, sweet thing,
not a wing nor a prayer,
though you got half
by birthright,
itching under the skin.

(There’s a typo somewhere.)
Buck ‘n’ wing,
common prayer—
which way do you run?
The oaken bucket’s
all busted
and the water’s all gone.

I’m not for sale because I’m free.
(So they say. They say
the play’s the thing, too,
but we know that don’t play.)
Everyone’s a ticket
or a stub, so it might as well
cost you, my dear.

But are you sure you lost it?
Did you check the back seat?
What a bitch. Gee, that sucks.
Well, you know what they say.
What’s gone’s gone.
No use crying.
(There’s a moral somewhere.)

BOGAEV: This is such a playful, playful jazzy poem. I imagined when you wrote this that you’d just been reading Shakespeare. It’s almost like you gave yourself an assignment to play with some quotes. But that’s just me. So how did it come to you?

DOVE: You know, it was—I didn’t give myself an assignment or even think consciously of Shakespeare. It just was part and parcel of the poem. I guess the most direct directive that I gave myself was permission to complain. Permission to, you know, to be that snarky person.

The playfulness is as much a Shakespearean playfulness as it is a blues playfulness. You know, this idea of always laughing to keep from crying. Which is one of the reasons why I think Shakespeare speaks so well to African Americans, frankly. You know, we know that tune.

I think at this point, there was so much Shakespeare in my life, and there’s so much that it was just second nature. It’s just it was part of the language.

BOGAEV: Thank you so much. It’s just a pleasure and a privilege.

DOVE: It’s been a delight. Thank you, Barbara.


WITMORE: That was US Poet Laureate (1993 – 1995) Rita Dove, interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. You can see Rita Dove’s poem in person when the Folger Shakespeare Library reopens on June 21 of this year. We can’t wait to see you here.

This episode was produced by Matt Frassica. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer, with help from Leonor Fernandez. We had technical help from With Good Reason, Virginia Humanities, and  Voice Trax West in Studio City, California. Final mixing services provided by Clean Cuts at Three Seas, Inc.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare Unlimited, please leave us a review on your podcast platform of choice, to help others find the show.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website,

Thanks for listening. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.