Margaret Maher as the Voice of America

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.”

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