Harry Ransom Center

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Poetry Series Featuring Actors From The Alley Theatre

Watch and listen as actors give voice to the words of renowned poets through a partnership with Houston's nationally recognized Alley Theatre. In this video series, a curated selection of poems by authors such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, and many others whose written words can be found in the holdings of the Harry Ransom Center will be activated through readings by celebrated actors in the Alley Theatre’s Resident Acting Company.

Join us each month for a new, inspiring poetry reading, complete with an introduction and commentary by Ransom Center Betty Brumbalow Director Dr. Stephen Enniss, who will provide insight into the poems and authors selected. He has written on Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Seamus Heaney, among other notable literary figures. He is the author of After the Titanic: A Life of Derek Mahon (Gill and Macmillan, 2014).

Each episode will be available for a limited time. Set reminders to see the videos as they are released.

David Rainey
Countee Cullen, Rita Dove, Robert Hayden, and Langston Hughes
July 5, 2021 at noon (CST) - David Rainey

African American writers Countee Cullen, Rita Dove, Robert Hayden, and Langston Hughes are highlighted in this installment of the Harry Ransom Center’s Wordplay virtual poetry series. Actor David Rainey of Houston's Alley Theatre brings to life through performance and commentary important works of poetry by authors represented in the Ransom Center’s collections.

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Dylan Godwin
Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman
June 1, 2021 at noon (CST) - Dylan Godwin

The second installment of Wordplay continues with a selection of poems by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, both of whom are represented in the Ransom Center’s collections. These 19th century poems will come alive when read by Alley Theatre Actor Dylan Godwin. Listeners are invited to acknowledge the obvious contrasts between the poets, while listening closely for similarities pointed out in the commentary surrounding the poems.

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Elizabeth Bunch
A Ransom Center Anthology
May 3, 2021 at noon (CST) - Elizabeth Bunch

The series begins with Alley Theatre Actor Elizabeth Bunch giving voice to the poetry of Irish poet Louis MacNeice, Welsh-born Dylan Thomas, and American poets Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell. Also included in this episode will be poets well-represented in our rare print collections, including Gwendolyn Brooks and June Jordan. These poems will convey the breadth and depth of the poetry holdings of the Ransom Center, and audiences will find new favorites among familiar classics.

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  • About the Alley Theatre

    Actors from Alley Theatre’s Resident Acting Company will activate each poet’s words, offering commentary about their dissection and reaction to the written words. The Theatre’s commitment to maintaining a Resident Acting Company has made it unique among American theatre companies and enables artists to deepen their work through long-term collaboration and strong ties to the community. One of America’s leading nonprofit theatres, the Alley Theatre is led by Artistic Director Rob Melrose and Managing Director Dean R. Gladden. Featuring current plays, re-invigorated classics, and new work by contemporary writers, the Theatre reaches more than 200,000 people each year through nearly 500 performances and educational programs. Learn more about the 2021-2022 season lineup.

  • About the Ransom Center’s Archival Poetry Holdings

    The Ransom Center’s poetry holdings span hundreds of years, a variety of poetic genres, and come from countries all around the world. Twentieth-century poetry holdings include the work of Billy Collins, e. e. cummings, T. S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Louis MacNeice, Christopher Okigbo, Ezra Pound, Frederick Seidel, Anne Sexton, Edith Sitwell, James Tate, Dylan Thomas, and Dara Weir, among others. The Center holds extensive collections of Beat Generation poets, including materials related to William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac.

    Eighteenth and nineteenth century archival materials shed light on the creative process of such poets as Edgar Allan Poe, Christina Rossetti, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde,. The Center also has extensive holdings by Romantic Poets and includes poetry by William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and William Wordsworth.

    The Center contains one of the largest collections of poetry related to the experience of war written by combatants and noncombatants alike. Included in the collection are printed and manuscript works by men and women from many countries and multiple languages and conflicts. In addition, it includes the recent acquisition of The Dean Echenberg War Poetry Collection.

Alley Theatre

Program Sponsor
Funding generously provided by
the Madison Charitable Foundation.

The series is co-directed by Alley Associate Producer & Casting Director Brandon Weinbrenner.

Programs & Symposia Visit from Home Exhibitions

Lisa Pulsifer
Head of Public Programs and Education