30 Sep

By Xin Tian Koh

Dickinson The Gorgeous Nothings

Image from Amazon.

On the morning of September 24th, Colson Hall and its tenants welcomed Professor Marta Werner of D’Youville College, a renowned Dickinson scholar and co-author of The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems. Professor Werner gave a lecture on Dickinson’s late manuscripts. Most of these manuscripts were written on scraps of paper or envelope fragments, which can be found at the Emily Dickinson Collection at Amherst College. Professor Werner talked about the challenges and joys of reading, presenting, and making sense of Dickinson’s handwritten poems: “I try to contextualise as much as I can… [and] be clear as much as possible about the distance between that piece of paper and me.”

In the afternoon, Professor Werner visited Jim Harms’ graduate poetry workshop, where we were privileged to get a closer look at detailed, true-to-size, full-colour facsimiles of the envelope poems. With Professor Werner’s explanations, we could see how Dickinson turned and folded the paper as she wrote, and her “refusal to make smooth, elegant sentences” in her own hand.

Copies of the The Gorgeous Nothings were on sale, courtesy of the WVU Bookstore. If you missed the lecture, these books are still available at Barnes and Noble beside the Mountainlair (while they last)!

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