Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Muse: Emily Dickinson Exhibition

Emily Dickinson, Daguerreotype, c. 1847
The Emily Dickinson Collection,
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Gift of Millicent Todd Bingham, 1956 [1956.002)

The Morgan Library & Museum is one of my favorite places to visit in New York City. And this winter, for those of us who are literary-inclined, the Morgan gives us a special reason this winter and spring to stop by: "I'm Nobody? Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson".

On view through May 21, the Morgan's exhibition, which opened on Inauguration Day and was co-organized by Amherst College, aims to correct the common belief that Dickinson (1830-1886) was a recluse. To the contrary! By gathering for display nearly 100 rarely seen manuscripts and letters, and as well as some artifacts being shown for the first time, the exhibition makes the case that Dickinson's life was "filled with rich friendships and long-lasting relationships with mentors and editors."

Featured are 24 of Dickinson's nearly 1,800 poems, in various states of draft, that are complemented by audio descriptions. Hand-cut silhouettes, photographs, daguerreotypes, contemporary illustrations, and other visual materials are also available.

Cover Art
Emily Dickinson: Poems (Boston: Roberts Bros., 1890)
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
and The Morgan Library & Museum
Photo: Janny Chiu (2016)

For those unable to travel to New York City, the Morgan offers a lovely selection of 25 of Dickinson's poems, read by Lee Ann Brown, poet and English professor, St. John's University, and founder Tender Buttons Press. Among them are "The sun kept stooping — stooping — low —"; "Light is sufficient to itself —"; "I'm Nobody! Who are you?"; and "The way Hope builds His House". On each page of the online exhibition is a facsimile of the poem as Dickinson wrote it, as well as editorial comment on its significance.

Also available is the 185-page publication The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson (2017), featuring essays by Mike Kelly, head of Amherst's Archives and Special Collection, Robert Frost Library; Carolyn Vega, the Morgan's assistant curator of literary and historical manuscripts; Marta Werner, English professor at Buffalo's D'Youville College, and co-author, The Gorgeous Nothings (New Directions, 2013); Susan Howe, a painter, poet, and author who has received both the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and the American Book Award for My Emily Dickinson (New Directions); and Richard Wilbur, Amherst's John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer and former U.S. Poet Laureate (1987-1988). The foreword is by Colin B. Bailey, the Morgan's director.

Cover Art

The Morgan has scheduled a number of exhibition-related events, including a lecture, "Dickinson's Manuscripts", on February 10; a gallery talk on March 3; a concert, "In Poetry and Song: An Evening with Patti Smith and Jesse Paris Smith", March 21 (sold out); the family program "Exceptional Expressions", March 25; a showing of the film A Quiet Passion (Palace Films), March 28; a workshop for adults, "'This is my letter to the World': Writing Poetry with Emily Dickinson", April 7-9; and another concert, "First Songs: Dawn Upshaw and the Bard College Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program", April 13. Details are available at the event links. All are ticketed. The gallery talks and exhibition tours (Tuesday through Sunday, 3:00 p.m.) are free; other events may be discounted to members.

Also of Interest

The Morgan on FaceBook, Instagram, and YouTube

Emily Dickinson: Envelope Poems (New Directions Books)

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