Yesterday, at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The English Department Creative Writing Program along with The Friends of the Lehigh Univeristy Libraries sponsored an event called Sonnet Slam! This event featured readings of poetry, a celebration of the student literary magazine Amaranth, and the 400th year of Shakesepeare’s life and showcased a display of extraordinary importance for lovers of Shakespeare.
The event was held in the Bayer Galleria, a beautiful room, filled with special holdings in its bookshelves, an old fireplace, plenty of seating, and a very important display. Lehigh University has an extraordinary collection of early Shakespeare texts: in the case were the First Folio, the Second Folio, the Third Folio, and the Fourth Folio.
Shakespeare is one of my main areas of study, and as a Shakespearean, viewing these rare and important volumes was nearly a sacred experience. I have loved Shakespeare since I was a teenager; I have studied his work, loved reading the plays and poetry, acted in some plays, directed a play, and taught his work. Having been intricately connected with Shakespeare, being able to see these early texts was a moving and deeply powerful experience.
When the event began, I read two sonnets and had fun with that. When I was younger, I had a goal to memorize all of them, but let’s say that was not entirely successful! Then undergraduate students, a graduate student who is the advisor for the literary magazine and an excellent poet, and a professor read. At that point, I had to leave to prepare to teach my upcoming class, but it was a wonderful and moving experience.