Shakespeare's Sisters: Say Her Name

Inspired by the Folger’s long-established course for students, this year Folger Poetry will offer an 8-week virtual seminar and writing workshop for adults. Shakespeare's Sisters: Say Her Name will explore the poetry of Black women in America.  

The exploration begins in the 18th-century with the first published African-American poet Phillis Wheatley, moves through writers from the Civil War era, to the Jazz Age, and through to poets of our own day. These poets include Frances E.W. Harper, Anne Spencer, June Jordan, Ai, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Toi Derricotte, Tracy K. Smith and others. 

This poetry workshop, led by poet and Folger Poetry Coordinator Teri Cross Davis and poet and author Kim Roberts, will encourage workshop participants to write responses to the poetry being studied.  The workshop will culminate with a reading of the work that is created. 

Session I. RETROSPECTIVE—From Phillis Wheatley, the first African American author to publish a book of poems in America to Sonia Sanchez, one of the leading voices of the Black Arts Movement, this session covers the foundation of Black women writing poetry in America.

Session II. CONTEMPORARY- 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.

Each 4-week session is $150, register for both sessions for $250. Poetry subscribers receive a discount on this workshop and should contact the box office when registering.

Spaces are available separately for Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) participants and for those who can only participate on a sliding scale. Please contact Teri Cross Davis at

Sessions for 2020 have now ended. Please check back for information on future sessions.