Free Symposium and Concert Celebrate 400th Anniversary of the Birth of 17th Century Poet Anne Bradstreet
Anne Dudley Bradstreet, who was born in England in 1612 and spent much of her life living in Andover, MA, was the first female published poet of the New World. In celebration of the 400th anniversary of her birth, the Friends of Anne Bradstreet will present an afternoon symposium exploring aspects of her life and work on Saturday, September 29 and a birthday concert featuring performances by many regional and local performers on Sunday, September 30. Both the symposium and performance are free and open to the public and will be held at Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA.
“Anne was a founding Mother of the New England colonies, and a published poet in the 17th century, a time when most women could not even read, let alone write,” said Karen M. Kline, chair of the Friends of Anne Bradstreet Steering Committee and poet laureate of North Andover. “This celebration is designed to foster awareness and appreciation of this remarkable woman and her life and work.”
Anne Bradstreet was the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a prominent Puritan, and at the age of 16, she married Simon Bradstreet, also a well respected Puritan. Anne and Simon, along with Anne’s parents, immigrated to America from England in 1630 with other Puritans, including Governor John Winthrop, aboard the Arbella. Both Anne’s husband and her father later served as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Bradstreet was very well educated for her time—she was familiar with several languages and had a background in history and literature—but her poetry focused primarily on religious and domestic themes, including her husband, whom she loved passionately, and her eight children.
In 1647, Bradstreet’s brother-in-law, Reverend John Woodbridge sailed to England, taking a manuscript of her poetry with him without her knowledge. As a result of his efforts, her first work was published in London and her legacy was established.
Bradstreet was a founding mother of Boston, Cambridge, and the original Andover Parish, now called North Andover.
“In her poetry, Anne reflects on motherhood and love, as well as hinting at feminist feeling. Her work rings true today,” said Kline.
Held from 1 to 4 p.m. in Merrimack College’s Cascia Hall, the symposium will feature the following presenters and topics:
Charlotte Gordon, Endicott College:
“Anne Dudley Bradstreet: New World Woman”
Mark Schorr, Cambridge College:
“Comparison of Anne’s work with Germaine Greer and Wistawa Szymborska, 1996 Nobel Laureate”
Debra Michals, Merrimack College:
“Economics of Being a Woman Poet; Comparing the 17th Century and Today”
Elisa New, Harvard University
“Reading Anne Bradstreet”
The Sunday, September 30 concert— held from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College—will feature Bradstreet’s poetry set to music.
Cappella Clausura, an ensemble of voices and early music instruments; Essex Chamber Music Players; North Andover High School Scarlet and Black Singers; and the New England Classical Singers will perform music by composers Dorothy Lamb Crawford, Kenneth Seitz, Eric Sawyer, and David Bennett Thomas.
In between performances, a costumed performer, Susan Lenoe of Andover, will play the role of Anne Bradstreet, offering insight into her life and poetry.
Sponsors of these events are the Merrimack College’s Women and Gender Studies Department, Eastern Bank, the Yale School of Music’s Alumni Ventures Fund, and the Andover and North Andover cultural councils.
For more information, visit the website AnneBradstreet.org or contact Edward Wang, email@example.com or 978 382-0719.