Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Gorgeous Nothings

But are not all facts dreams as soon as we put them behind us -
Emily Dickinson has always fascinated me. Her poems are so bold, so straightforward, and I think, often misunderstood. There is so much power in her poetry, and what makes it all the more unusual is the fact that her poems were never published while she was alive. Which makes them hard to publish indeed, because it is unclear exactly how she would have wanted them published. Many of them were written on odd scraps of paper. In this beautiful book, for the first time, the general public gets to see those very scraps of paper. Just as understanding that E. E. Cummings was a painter as well as a poet gives insight into the nature of his poetry, there is something very intimate about seeing Emily's handwriting and strange compositional form on these odd little scraps. There is something beautiful about them, and something alien, as well. On some she seems to just dash down a random thought, or part of one. On others, she carefully places each word. On yet others, it looks like she is solving a puzzle, with multiple alternate words suggested throughout. I've spent quite a bit of time in Amherst, Massachusetts, and it always made me feel like I knew her, at least a little bit -- and this book has made me feel like I know her ever so much more.

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