Emily Gets Up All In That

Posted in Media on May 3rd, 2019 by admin – Be the first to comment

Emily Dickinson has a body!

Sex with her sister-in-law in the first five minutes of the irreverent comedy Wild Nights with Emily — plus a steamy jealousy between the two of them over a childhood friend  — is just part of the fun in what will be a completely new take for legions of Emily Dickinson’s worldwide fans.

Thanks to the irrepressible Molly Shannon, the smart-mouthed and brilliant poet Emily Dickinson finally gets her due.

And that’s not all the kink.

While poet and sister-in-law slyly pursue their passions, Emily’s brother flagrantly conducts an affair with his sister’s future posthumous editor.

As a narrative through-line we observe the future editor getting so much wrong as she takes her own ambition-enhancing show on the road interpreting Emily Dickinson to the public.

(Easier to spin new tales once the dead woman poet, & her G-spot, are safely in her grave.)

Expect rom-com rather than strict biopic.

For those of us who know too much about Emily, writer-director Madeleine Olnek takes loads of liberties with the life story of this globally known poet.

It’s a movie, after all, about a rule-breaker — of linguistic and social norms.

Olnek’s tweeks — such as the bumbling suitor who mixes up Brontë plot lines — are refreshing and easy laughs yet still manage to carry the sensibility of Emily’s time and life.

Disappointment in love is the yawn for why Emily D. didn’t publish in her lifetime. This movie leaves audiences with new reasons that make more sense.

The well-cast ensemble manages to delight while still conveying a writer’s ambition thwarted by dull-witted male editors, mired by sexism, who couldn’t grasp or support her literary brilliance.

Funny, I don’t remember that happening to innovators in her rank such as Shakespeare and Cervantes.

The crumbs to multiculturalism — a dreamy sequence narrated by a poem that includes an African-American woman with parasol or the tomb scene where an African-American man alternates with Emily reciting one of her poems on death — came across to me as glaringly odd in a film that does so much right.

Factoid: The film’s left-footed multiculturalism may be a nod to the poet’s home-centered world peopled by maids, gardeners, laborers, and stable hands of African slave-descent, and Yankees, Native Americans, and immigrants from Ireland and England.

Yes, do see the hilarious Wild Nights with Emily and give up any notions that Emily Dickinson was alone — or without love interests or without the daily presence of laboring folks from many backgrounds.

Getting a body — and using it — turns out to be an essential ingredient if you want to write. Perhaps even more so to write with genius.

Published 11 June 2019 in Medium

Have Black Cake & Eat It Too

Posted in Media, book news on January 15th, 2017 by admin – Be the first to comment

Emily Dickinson’s hidden kitchen & those unseen folks with whom she spent time in the domestic arena are the subject of a blog post and podcast – Episode #62 — by The Kitchen Sisters! Links for the podcast — to itunes, stitcher RSS — from this page.

Tune-in Hearth-side

Posted in Media on January 3rd, 2017 by admin – Be the first to comment

The talented duo known as the Kitchen Sisters are set to expand their seven minute Morning Edition spot about prolific baker Emily Dickinson — better known now as a poet.

One of their story development sources will be Maid as Muse when they take “a longer look at ED’s kitchen and life for our podcast,” reports Nikki Silva.

Look forward to hearing deeper broadcasting about the farm-to-table-poet.

Even after a maid was hired — when Emily D. could have run upstairs & slammed her bedroom door to freedom as she told her niece Mattie — the baker-poet gravitated to the kitchen where, in that companionable & generative space alongside her maid, she wrote.

Broadcast date to be announced!

All Quiet on the Snarkless Front

Posted in Media on February 16th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

A special entry at the Berlin Film Festival, receiving a 4 star review by The Guardian, Terrence Davies’ A Quiet Passion film about Emily Dickinson is set to open in American movie houses.  The poet is, according to reviewer Andrew Pulver, “superbly played with a sort of restless passivity by Cynthia Nixon.”  Uh oh.

Movie action circulates between library, bedroom, and parlor — that tired narrative. Renown during her lifetime for her culinary prowess — could we see Emily writing at her pastry board and hovering over the stove? A confirmed naturalist, how about dog Carlo at her side while she tramps widely searching for specimens on the forest floor?

Early movie goers have complained of boredom.

An early clip has disappointed biographers and literary critics — perhaps because Emily Dickinson’s famous “Damascus blade wit” has been reassigned to the character of a Ms. Buffum. No Emily snark?

Sorry, but the early reports are of a passionless quiet.


Posted in Media on April 10th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

It’s official. Ms. Margaret Maher – who, as maid, collaborated in the kitchen with Ms. Emily Dickinson – has entered the pages, so to speak, of Wikipedia.

Emily D. was drawn to the kitchen to write – when Margaret Maher was stationed there (hence, Maid as Muse).

That’s not all. This maid became the poet’s archivist and saved the poems.

Next entry?

Tom Kelley as Emily’s chosen chief pallbearer?

The list could grow of wikipedia entries on the poet’s Native American, white Yankee, English & Irish immigrant, and African American laborers, stablehands, maids, and gardeners:

Henry Hawkins, Rosina Mack, Dick Matthews, Eliza Thompson, Bettie Ann Brown Scott, Margaret O Brien, Dennis Scannell, Stephen Sullivan & many many more…

These unseen and undervalued people were vital to the making of Emily Dickinson’s art & the creation of our literary inheritance.

Let’s Talk Indiana

Posted in Media on April 26th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Let’s Talk is one of the best radio shows going. This popular program is hosted by the thoughtful and astute radio journalist Deborah Godwin-Starks on WBOI / WBNI / WQSW for folks in and around Fort Wayne.

On her show, Ms. Deborah (pronounced De-BOR-ah) engages her listeners on topics ranging from health care, family matters, and finances to education and spiritual growth.

Today, Tuesday, from 10:30 to 11 AM we will talk about the laboring men and women who shared the kitchen with that famous recluse Emily Dickinson.

Shared the kitchen?

That’s right.

Emily Dickinson shared her kitchen with a number of “stellar women” – and men!

Learn more by tuning your dial to 89.1 FM or 94.1 FM or 100.5 FM.

You’ll be joining the stellar Deborah Godwin-Starks as she interviews the author of Maid as Muse and we flesh out a more fully human take on the “isolated” poet.

Guaranteed to make you think differently about Emily Dickinson – and yourself!

Radio That Makes You Think

Posted in Media, Uncategorized on April 22nd, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

What do Judy Collins, Geraldo Rivera, John Stossel, Bruce Lipton, Judy Orloff, and Aife Murray have in common?

Give up?

As of Friday, April 23, they all will have been interviewed by Family Therapist and awesome media host David McMillian for his KEEL show Strategies for Living.

The daily hour-long program is dedicated to helping listeners improve their quality of living – body, mind & spirit – in the broadest sense. Strategies for Living goes out to KEEL listeners in Shreveport. Luckily, even if you don’t live in Louisiana, you can link to the podcasts the very same day they broadcast & the archived programs.

By 11 AM central time on April 23, surf in to the daily post where you’ll hear Maid as Muse author Aife Murray and David McMillian discuss Emily Dickinson’s relationship with her maids, laborers, gardeners, and stablemen.

These are the women and men who improved the poet’s quality of life. There are some surprises, though, so tune in to find out how they improved our quality of life!

If your a bookstore doesn’t yet carry Maid as Muse, ask them to!

Maid On The Air

Posted in Media on April 21st, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Voices brush from speakers on the car door, hum in ear buds tucked, or blurt from a radio clamped to the shower wall.

Cecilia Skidmore in Michigan, Jeff Schechtman from the Napa Valley, Faiza El-Masry in Washington DC, Geoffrey Reilly from southern Oregon, Alvin Jones broadcasting in North Carolina, and Mindy Todd out on Cape Cod…

What they have in common is a focus on interesting ideas – and the ability to convey that with skill and intelligence to their avid listeners.

These terrific radio journalists interviewed Maid as Muse author Aife Murray. Wherever you are on the globe you can listen.

Thanks go out to the great folks at Open Book Publicity – Leslie Rossman and Linda Phelan – for linking Maid as Muse with these wonderful radio journalists and their devoted listening audiences across this nation and this world. And a shout out to the very astute Lisa Rothman Consulting.

Little did Emily Dickinson know – when she hired Margaret Maher to tend the hearth or Henry Hawkins to manage the grounds – that their story, in hers, would be embraced.

Ozarks at Large

Posted in Media on April 20th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Hand made in Arkansas Ozarks

Language is made from many materials – the overheard conversation on the street corner, snippets that run across the bottom of your TV screen, newspaper headlines, novels, the poem scrawled on the side of an alley brick wall, the fortune inside your cookie…

Emily Dickinson took inspiration from a variety of sources. Her poems are made from everyday language, hand hewn into something astonishingly beautiful.

That’s what we’ll be talking about on with radio journalist Kyle Kellams on KUAF’s Ozarks at Large.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Arkansas Ozark country, tune in!

Keep up with book happenings – click Like on the Maid as Muse FB page

Margaret Maher as the Voice of America

Posted in Media on April 12th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Voice of America journalist Faiza El-Masry brings a new story to people all over the world – about how we are all part of making our culture.

Emily Dickinson was not an isolated genius. She collaborated with, was assisted by, and her language was influenced by women and men whose job it was to be unseen. People whose daily task was to wipe away marks left. These people have slipped from her narrative.

Maids, gardeners, laborers, seamstresses, stable hands – the working poor of Emily Dickinson’s town – crowded into her kitchen and her life. Maid Margaret Maher saved the poems from destruction – the poems Emily Dickinson stored in her maid’s trunk. We owe a great debt to Margaret Maher’s independent thought and action. She was every bit as Emily Dickinson described: “warm and wild and mighty.”

Before Emily Dickinson died she scripted her own funeral. She honored six laborers with the role of pallbearers – to the shock of family and neighbors. Famous for “telling it slant,” this was a telling choice – a recognition of what these laborers had meant to her life.

Now it’s time for us to see them – in this & any story of how art is made and with what “materials.”

Learn more!