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Rewriting Shakespeare

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Salman Javed
William Shakespeare (Stained Glass), Dome Gallery, State Library of Victoria

William Shakespeare has been dead for over 400 years, but we still turn to his words and his work for wisdom and inspiration, particularly when it comes to matters of love. 

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with James Anthony, who rewrote every one of Shakespeare’s sonnets following the rules of rhyme and iambic pentameter, but using modern, accessible language. His collection is titled, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Retold: Classic Love Poems with a Modern Twist.”

“We do not know anything about William Shakespeare, about his life,” Anthony says. “We barely know where he was, we don’t know what day he was born, we don’t know his movements, we have no personal interviews, we have no record of any letters he ever sent to anybody.”

But we do have his sonnets, which Anthony argues are the most personal artifacts we have of his.

“This was his diary; I believe the sonnets are the diary of his heart.”

Later in the program, we listen back to an interview with Loretta Ellsworth, the author of “Stars Over Clear Lake,” a 1940s era romance.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa