Poetry Readings Live from Emily Dickinson’s House, Anyone?

The Homestead. Image credit: Emily Dickinson Museum

For over 50 years, the Folger Shakespeare Library has held its O.B. Hardison Poetry Series, and 2020 will be no different. Emerging and established voices of poetry cannot be silenced by a pandemic, people!

And coronavirus is actually making this year’s readings that much more exciting, “invite[ing] poetry lovers across the nation and abroad to connect online — with minds unquarantined” with readings presented virtually, live-streamed from the homes of Emily Dickinson and Abraham Lincoln!

Later readings are scheduled to take place at The Phillips Collection and the National Gallery of Art, with a live audience, if it is safe to do so. But if you’re like us, you’re thrilled at the prospect of being in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom during her Birthday Tribute reading and cozying up to see inside Lincoln’s Cottage during a reading about history and truth.

Here’s the full season schedule (tickets available now):

There is too much to say:
Toi Derricotte
Virtual reading:
Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7:30pm ET
In this virtual reading, Derricotte will read from her most recent and sixth collection of poetry, I: New and Selected Poems, published in 2019 and shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. The reading will be followed by a discussion, moderated by Robin Coste Lewis, author of Voyage of the Sable Venus, the winner of the National Book Award for Poetry (2015).

To enter the world:
Stephanie Burt & Taylor Johnson
Virtual reading:
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 7:30pm ET
Poets Stephanie Burt and Taylor Johnson share their work in this virtual reading highlighting
transgender poets, with poetry that explores regional and gender identity. Both poets share roots in the greater Washington, DC region. This reading will have a free virtual presentation exploring gender and identity with items from the Folger Collection and more from 5:30-6:30pm ahead of the reading at 7:30pm.

The Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute Reading
Tonight I am in love: Dorianne Laux
Virtual reading:
Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 7:30pm ET
A beloved annual tradition of the Folger’s O.B. Hardison Poetry Series, this year’s tribute features
poet Dorianne Laux, who will deliver the Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute Reading live from
Dickinson’s bedroom in Amherst, Massachusetts. This online reading will include a virtual tour of Dickinson’s bedroom by Jane Wald, director of the Emily Dickinson Museum.

I will tell you the truth about this:
Tracy K. Smith & Maurice Manning
Virtual reading:
Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 7:30pm ET
Lincoln’s Cottage is the site of this virtual reading using poetry to explore President Abraham Lincoln
and the Civil War. Tracy K. Smith is the author of Wade in the Water and Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. From 2017 to 2019, Smith served as Poet Laureate of the United States. Maurice Manning’s collections include The Common Man, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, and One Man’s Dark. His seventh collection, Railsplitter, imagines Lincoln’s posthumous voice through poetry.

A Centennial Celebration: Michael Collier & Monica Sok
at The Phillips Collection
Thursday, April 8 or 15, 2021 at 6:30pm ET
Two poets with local DC connections read together in celebration of The Phillips Collection’s Centennial Celebration. The work of Michael Collier and Monica Sok paints personal histories, creating intimate gems that shine in the public setting. In this ekphrastic reading, both poets will read work in response to The Phillips Collection’s centenary exhibition.

Folger Poetry Board Reading: Billy Collins
at National Gallery of Art
Monday, May 10, 2021 at 7:30pm ET
Each year the Folger Poetry Board selects a distinguished poet to read from his or her own poems as
well as favorite works by other poets. Billy Collins, named “the most popular poet in America” by The
New York Times, is the author of several volumes of poetry, most recently The Rain in Portugal. He is a
former United States Poet Laureate.