Celebrating Emily Dickinson
By George Wallace
Huntington may have first dibs on Walt Whitman, but for Long Island poetry,
Bridgehampton is fast becoming the it place when it comes
to Emily Dickinson.
That assertion has its foundation in the multi-year marathon reading effort
being put on at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton.
Organized by the library and Canios Bookstore in Sag Harbor, participants
will kick off round three of a multi-year marathon reading of the work
Dickinson on Sat, May 19, 2012 10:00 am - 4:00pm. Visitors can enjoy refreshments,
listen to poetry and even sign up to recite at the circulation desk of
the library, which is located at 2478 Main Street in Bridgehampton.
Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 May 15, 1886) was born in Amherst,
Massachusetts and, though now considered one of Americas greatest
poets, had less than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems published in her
lifetime. Unlike the expansive diction of Walt Whitman, Dickinsons
verse is short, terse, with in-turning syntax and significant compression.
She favored "Common meter," the verse form of Protestant hymns
of her day, often borrowing to construct a poem. Its four-line stanza,
or quatrain, combines an alternating rhyme scheme (abab) with alternating
long (8-syllable) and short (6-syllable) lines -- as this untitled poem
by Dickinson demonstrates:
It's such a little thing to weep --
So short a thing to sigh --
And yet -- by Trades -- the size of these
We men and women die!
This poem is typical of Dickinsons pre-occupation, thematically,
with death and immortality.
But she was drawn to a number of themes.
Known more for her gardening than her poetry during her lifetime, for
example, Dickinson drew on experience of the quiet outdoor life in Amherst
for inspiration -- using images of nature in her poems with such lines
as: "Nature rarer uses yellow / Than another hue / Leaves she all
of that for sunsets / Prodigal of blue."
And for all her introversion, she could be quite playful, as in the famous
Im Nobody, Who Are You?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
The eight hour marathon has a multi-year history. It began in 2010, when
Julie Sheehan, Dianne Youngblood, Fred Thiele, Kathy Engel, Steve Long,
Marilee Foster, Virginia Tiger, Joanne Utley, Arkady Nebelsin, David Holmes,
Kathryn Szoka and Marcia Mitrowski of the Hampton Library began reading
from among Dickinsons nearly 1800 total poems.
In Dec 2011, poems written in 1859 and 1860 were read. The readers were
all from the Bridgehampton area and included poets, a farmer, librarians,
a public official, a photographer/bookseller and other lovers of literature.
Among the readers were Marilee Foster, Virginia Tiger, Arkady Nebelsin,
Kathryn Szoka, Ann Mackesey, Hillary Strober, Lee Foster, Diana White
and Marcia Mitrowski of the Hampton Library.
For more information contact Kelly Harris firstname.lastname@example.org, or
at 631 537-0015.