Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Poetry Month: Poetry Reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library & Writing Prompt



Coming from the New York City area, I never knew that Washington, D.C., had such an active literary scene. The Folger Shakespeare Library runs the OB Hardison Poetry Series, a regular series that draws popular poets from around the country.

The Folger Shakespeare Theater is a beautiful, wood-paneled, intimate space. When I walked in for a reading, the staff distributed copies of hand-written poems by each poet, which was a particularly lovely touch. Unlike most reading series that are free and hosted by universities (or the cost of a drink at a local café or bar), these readings cost $15.00, which is a reasonable cost for the talent who they invite. I look forward to attending future readings there.

I recently heard Mary Karr and Lyrae Van Clief-Stephanon at the Folger. After the reading, they answered questions from the audience moderated by Reb Livingston. If you are familiar with Karr or Clief-Stephanon, you already know that it was a spirited evening with a discussion that involved poetry, religion, suicide, favored (and less favored) contemporary poets and more.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stephanon read a few bop poems. I admit that I wasn’t previously familiar with the form. Here’s how the Academy of American Poets defines it


A recent invention, the Bop was created by Afaa Michael Weaver during a summer retreat of the African American poetry organization, Cave Canem. Not unlike the Shakespearean sonnet in trajectory, the Bop is a form of poetic argument consisting of three stanzas, each stanza followed by a repeated line, or refrain, and each undertaking a different purpose in the overall argument of the poem.

Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at writing a bop this Poetry Month?

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