Category : Books
Date : December 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830-May 15, 1886)

Dickinson’s works are now more accessible—on the web, in a new book and on exhibit.

In late October, the Emily Dickinson Archive was launched on the web.  For the first time all of her known hand written manuscript pages—poems, notes, letters–are in one place and available to poet, scholar or gardener.  Pick from one of the eight archive locations housing her works and begin to turn the pages of their holdings.  Zoom in on her handwriting, her dashes, and carefully read her letters and poems.

If you want to hold a book in your hands, then you are fortunate for Emily Dickinson The Gorgeous Nothings by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin (with a preface by Susan Howe) is hot off the press and packed with images and essays.  The book is an artwork in itself—scanned images of ‘fifty-two envelope writings’ float on white pages—each page holds one image in full color.  Turn the page and see the other side, or hold the page in your hand, and see both sides at once.  The book concludes with an essay by Werner and visual indexes of the envelopes compiled by Bervin.

If you still want more, and by more, I mean to see the real envelope fragments, then you are in luck.  Tucked into an intimate room at The Drawing Center in New York, one can view her handwriting close up in the exhibition ‘Dickinson/Walser Envelope Sketches’ curated by Claire Gilman (on view until January 14, 2014).  Linger, as I did, over each fragment and examine the relationship between the shape of the envelope and the placement of the text.  Then, zero in on poem and relish in her words.

"When they come back--if Blossoms do"--Brece Honeycutt collaborative piece at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY, 2007

“When they come back–if Blossoms do”–Brece Honeycutt collaborative piece at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY, 2007.                   Photograph Benjamin Swett

Dickinson, in her lifetime was known for her gardens and baking, rather than her words.  Her flowers are long gone and the ovens are cold, but her words, placed on the page as she intended, can inspire us forevermore.

If you would like to visit Dickinson’s house in Amherst, MA, hurry over there before it closes for the season on December 29th (also closed for Christmas & Boxing Day). It will re-open in March 2014 : http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org

Comment (1)


Love seeing the photo from your Wave Hill show — and reading this great post. Probably can’t make it to Amherst, but the Drawing Center — yes! Thank you.

10 years ago

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