Shakespeare's Sisters

Shakespeare's Sisters is a free ten-week seminar celebrating five centuries of poetry by women. It is offered to selected students in grades 10–12, and meets on Wednesdays from 4–6pm from January through March. 

Participants in this seminar will read and discuss selected poems by British and American women poets from the mid-sixteenth century to the present—and, for comparison, some poems written about women by men. Students will also learn to write poetry of their own (no prior experience in writing poetry is necessary).

All students in grades 10–12 in the DC metropolitan area are eligible for the program. Students with an interest in creative writing or gender studies are particularly encouraged to apply. This program is offered free of charge.

The Folger Shakespeare Library prioritizes diversity; students should be genuinely interested in working with people from a wide variety of educational and cultural backgrounds in an atmosphere of mutual respect. There is no cost for the program, and all books and materials are provided free of charge. Participants will also be invited to a variety of poetry readings at the Folger Shakespeare Library during the seminar.

Teri Cross Davis, poetry and lectures coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library and Kim Roberts, poet and editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, lead the seminar.

Applications are now available for the 2018/19 seminar! To apply, please download this PDF iconstudent application and this PDF iconteacher recommendation form and submit to the address below by December 7, 2018. For a flyer with details and dates, please see the PDF icon2019 Shakespeare Sisters flyer. For any questions, please contact Teri Cross Davis at (202) 675-0374 or

Shakespeare’s Sisters Seminar
Poetry & Lectures Program
Folger Shakespeare Library 
201 East Capitol St, SE,
Washington, DC 20003

2019 Schedule

Week One: January 9
Poetry About Women: The Male Tradition in the Renaissance
Petrarch, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, William Shakespeare
Tour of the Folger Library
Week Two: January 16
Early British Women Poets
Queen Elizabeth I, Lady Mary Wroth, Katherine Phillips
Week Three: January 23
Treasures from the Vault
Virginia Woolf excerpt from A Room Of One’s Own
Week Four: January 30
Start of student presentations
Pioneers in a New World
Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Julia Ward Howe
Week Five: February 6
New Forms and New Ideas
Frances E.W. Harper, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Forten Grimke
Week Six: February 13
Public and Private Bohemians
Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Anne Spencer, Edna St. Vincent Millay 
Week Seven: February 20
Feminist Revolutionaries
Margaret Walker, Adrienne Rich, June Jordan
Week Eight: February 27
The Female Body Exposed
Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Linda Pastan
Week Nine: March 6
Expanding Voices Beyond Black and White
Julia Alvarez, Joy Harjo, Marilyn Chin 
Week Ten: March 13
Women Poets Laureate
Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Tracy K. Smith
Student Publication, Poetry Reading, Party