New Rita Dove poem inscribed on garden wall at Folger Shakespeare Library

On January 30, the Folger Shakespeare Library, an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and holder of the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare, announced it will reopen on Friday, June 21, 2024 after extensive renovations. As a part of those renovations, three artists were commissioned to create works that reflect the Folger’s mission and offer visitors creative entry points through which to consider Shakespeare and the early modern world. Included among these is a poem written by Rita Dove that is now inscribed upon the garden wall along the path that leads visitors down to the Folger’s new west entrance from East Capitol and 2nd St. SE.

“I have such a deep love for the Folger Shakespeare Library,” Dove said. “Just walking into the space, what it did to my sensibility and how it helped to refresh my soul. I wanted to recreate that feeling that I had every time I walked into the Folger, so that if someone were to be reading any portion of the poem as they walked in, it would help to guide them.”

Barbara Bogaev of the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast interviewed Rita Dove about her process of writing the poem; the transcript of that interview can be viewed here. The full text of the poem can be viewed at this link, and you can find more information about the Folger reopening here. Read The New York Times' profile of the Folger renovation here.