Emily Dickinson Day:

October 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

In honor of today’s events, which include a talk by Martha Nell Smith & Eliza Richards this afternoon, & a reading by Mark Doty, Alice Fulton & Susan Howe at the Rothko Chapel this evening, I’ve done a little reading ‘n linking for y’all’s hypertextual pleasure.

First, an essay on Slate tries to out Emily Dickinson as a gal who’s (gasp) been in love a time or two, since it’s totally post-mod to play Mythbusters.  Which elicits an eloquent & brief response from Travis Nichols on the Poetry Foundation’s blog.

Why is it that we’re so apt to think the poetry’s lost its mystery if the poet has lost some of hers?

I think the happy medium can be found in Lucie Brock-Broido’s exultation of Thomas James’s recently republished Letters to a Stranger.  She’s tenacious — almost downright frightening — in her pursuit of the still-living people on whom Thomas James’s brief physical life left a mark, but when it comes down to The Word of it, she seems to be saying that his poems have taken residence so deeply in her that no matter how many talks she gives on the subject, how many students she shares them with, that effect remains mysterious in the same way that we are, sometimes, mysterious even to ourselves.

“I want to be a shepherd to this book, and not one of its lambs, grazing and inevitable, eventual, along the way of so many vanishings. Thomas writes: The lambs are not aware of me. I do not want to lose myself along the way of losing everyone and everything that surrounds this book, except the text itself.”

& so we’ll make our way over to the Rothko Chapel to hear Emily Dickinson’s words, & words generated in response to them, resounding in a sacred — created — space.


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