nothing, not nothing, but gorgeous, yes

Posted in poetry on December 1st, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

If you think nothing equals the drama and beauty of your back-lit screen then you haven’t yet held The Gorgeous Nothings.

I’ve looked at many of Emily Dickinson’s poems in the original. I’ve donned the white cotton gloves and picked up the sheets and scraps, turning them over under the watchful eye of archivists.

I’ve gazed at amazing renditions on line at the brand new archive

I was then not prepared for my reaction to the new volume out from New Directions Press and a collaboration by the inestimable Marta Werner and Jen Bervin.

Envelope poems they are billed as. Little scraps of wonder.

I didn’t think I needed to own this book until it was placed in my hands

Can I say that these images are more real than the originals?

I just did. Stunningly tactile. It is a book of nothings, these scraps, and yet, here’s where the tout is accurate: gorgeous

Take my word or someone else’s but this treasure chest won’t disappoint

How public – like a frog

Posted in poetry on October 31st, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Almost everything is right there at the brand new Emily Dickinson Archive.

Touch a button -

The poems that were piling on table top, folded to pocket size, enclosed in letters, bound into sets of pages folded to make small books, hand-sewn with the same stitch that fixes – - – - -

Or the poems written on the wing of an envelope, the back of an accounting sheet, a chocolate wrapper, and pharmacy flyer. You can see them just like that

Admiring Bog: go here for a look at each poem by E. Dickinson as if holding the original. Read about the behind-the-scenes thinking & more great examples here.

Mothering Day

Posted in service on May 13th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Mothers Day celebrates those who raised another. Many perform the task of mothering alongside the mother. Her name is nanny or baby sitter or grandmom or companion or housekeeper. At the Dickinson Homestead, Margaret Maher was one who mothered Emily Dickinson.

Shrewdly, Emily sensed Margaret would be the right right-hand person and pulled out all the stops to get her hired.

What a pair. Here they are pictured, both as women in their late twenties, before they began their long association together.

There is no one Emily leaned on quite like she did Margaret Maher. Margaret never bore children of her own but she ably performed the task of nurturing a poet. Happy Mothering Day.


Posted in pilgrimage on May 2nd, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment


Goat Rock

May 1

Who’s Your Family?

Posted in book news on April 18th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

My essay – A Yankee Poet’s Irish Headwaters – appears in the newly published Extended Family: Essays on Being Irish American from Dufour.

The Cork poet Thomas McCarthy calls it “brilliant” and a “marvel”:

Isn’t Aífe Murray’s study of Emily Dickinson and Margaret Maher just brilliant;it really is a contribution to world literature, layered with a whole series of implications for creative histories at several levels, Irish-American, WASP-Yankee, authority and servitude, and women’s studies. It’s a marvel of an essay.

Essayist and novelist Peter Quinn finds Extended Family to be an “achievement” and a “gem”:

A milestone in the long day’s journey of Irish America from cliché, caricature, and scholarly neglect to a true accounting of its important role in the making of our country’s multicultural identity. Each of the pieces in this collection—whether poetry, history, or memoir—is a gem.

Get the paperback here

Emily’s Brief Rule

Posted in poetry on January 29th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Sit in your cell as in paradise.

Put the whole world behind you & forget it.

Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish.

The path you must follow is in the Psalms—never leave it.

Emily Dickinson following the above Brief Rule of St. Romuald:

Standing with her niece, ED mimed the motion of turning a key in her bedroom door lock.  “It’s just a turn — and freedom, Matty!”

Sweet hours have perished here,
This is a mighty room -
Within its precincts hopes have played
Now shadows in the tomb.*

When writer Emily went downstairs — to bake or cook or garden or tend the plants of her conservatory — she carried her cell with her.

Forgot the world briefly, watched her thoughts like a fisher.

I’m doing that today. Remembering to forget. Watching for what’s visible when I pause –


*Revise! Make it your own poem: ED’s alternate words: timid for mighty; fallow for shadows

Shaggy Dog Story

Posted in poetry on December 9th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Why do I avoid sitting down to write? Why do I fight something that “feels right” once I am actually doing it?

I turned to Emily Dickinson — my usual source of inspiration and whose 182nd birthday is today — and a look at her process to figure out how she moved past her resistance.

What I found was intriguing. Emily Dickinson transformed her writing barriers into a door to her work.

Emily Dickinson’s first writing strategy arrived in the form of a shaggy dog.

Read more at SheWrites…

Spain and Emily

Posted in poetry on December 2nd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Irreverent, bold, brilliant, artistically confident, slyly comic, notorious, sexy, revolutionary art pioneer…

Those words describe Emily Dickinson, the poet who passed away in May 1886,


Spain Rodriguez, the graphic artist who passed away in November 2012.

View some of Emily Dickinson’s writerly / visual work here

View some of Spain’s writerly / visual work here and a film by Susan Stern

Emily Writes Copy

Posted in poetry on November 11th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see —
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

It’s a great poem but, per usual, poetry does nothing for the economy

So how about this version penned by Emily Dickinson A.K.A BT Shaw:

“Faith” is a fine invention
For Gentlemen who see!
But Proof will burn — like Phosphorus –
Those Sexting — secretly –
Cell Phone Spy Recon for Blackberry and Android, $198.95

Food-Lit Book Club Pick!

Posted in book news on October 23rd, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

Maid as Muse is the November pick for the 18 Reasons Food Lit Book Club

I’ll make a guest appearance at the Club on Sunday, Nov 11 at 6:30 p.m.

This is a ticketed event so get more details here

We’ll talk:

- Foodie Emily Dickinson

- Emily Dickinson’s biggest family holiday: Thanksgiving

- Best writing & cooking practices (dished up as guest blogger on Four Pounds Flour with Bon Appetit commenting )

- Someone’s in the Kitchen with Emily

Join the Food-Lit Book Club for a look inside:

the poet’s pantry

& kitchen garden

& scullery