2009-2010 Poetry Discussion Group

Poetry Discussion Group 2009-2010
Fridays (once a month; see schedule below), noon- 2 p.m.

Poetry Discussion Group

Image: Steve Fratoni

Poetry Discussion Group meeting

The Emily Dickinson Museum's Poetry Discussion group meets monthly on Friday afternoons, September through May, for a brown bag lunch and lively conversation about Emily Dickinson’s poetry:  favorite poems, challenging poems, and the poet's craft. A facilitator helps to navigate the deeper waters of Dickinson's poetry.

The Poetry Discussion Group is open to all. For more information, contact Nan Fischlein, program coordinator, at nfischlein@emilydickinsonmuseum.org or at (413) 542-2034.  Registration fee is $65 for all 8 sessions or $10 per session.  The year’s schedule is below:

Friday, September 18, 2009
Alumni House, Amherst College

Topic:  Poems of Exhilaration
Discussion Facilitator:  Joy Ladin, David and Ruth Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College of Yeshiva University.  Ladin has led classes at the Dickinson Homestead for many years.  In addition to publishing a number of essays on Dickinson, she recently co-edited an issue of The Emily Dickinson Journal.  Her poems and essays have appeared in many publications, and her third book of poetry, Transmigration, was recently published by Sheep Meadow Press, which also published her first two books, Alternatives to History and The Book of Anna.

Friday, October 23, 2009
Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College

Topic:  “Chillon is not funny”: Poems about Imprisonment
Discussion Facilitator:  Susan Snively.  Snively is the author of four books of poetry: From This Distance (Alice James, 1981), Voices in the House (University of Alabama Poetry Series, 1988), The Undertow (University of Central Florida Contemporary Poetry Series, 1998), and Skeptic Traveler (David Robert Books, 2005.)  She has also published essays, both personal and critical. Snively has taught at Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and at Amherst College, and has received fellowships from the NEA and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. She recently retired as Director of the Writing Center at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts and now works as a guide at the Emily Dickinson Museum.  For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.

Friday, November 20, 2009
Alumni House, Amherst College

Topic:  Voice and Punctuation in Emily Dickinson’s poetry
Discussion Facilitator:  Margaret Freeman.  Freeman is Professor Emeritus of Los Angeles Valley College and a Co-Director of Myrifield Institute for Cognition and the Arts, a think tank for research in the cognitive sciences and the creative arts located in Heath, Massachusetts. She helped to found the Emily Dickinson International Society, and served as its first president from 1988 to 1992. She has published many articles in journals and anthologies in the area of cognitive poetics, which she applies to Dickinson’s poetry (among others). She is currently at work on two books: Poetic Iconicity, and Reading Emily Dickinson: A Cognitive Guide. She resides at Myrifield, where she hosts monthly meetings of the Emily Dickinson Reading Circle, with her husband, Don, and two border collies, Moss and Tess.  For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.

Friday, January 22, 2010
Alumni House, Amherst College

Topic:  Emily Dickinson and the Bible
Discussion Facilitator:  Bruce Penniman. Penniman taught English for 36 years at Amherst Regional High School, including a course on the Bible as literature.  In 1999, he was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.  A past president of the New England Association of Teachers of English, he has also edited NEATE’s journal, The Leaflet, and the NCTE Assembly on American Literature newsletter, This Is Just to Say.  A teacher-consultant with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project since 1994, he served as the site’s co-director from 1994 to 2002 and director from 2003 to 2007.  Currently semi-retired, he is still active in the National Writing Project, facilitating in-service workshops, and co-coordinating the Massachusetts Writing Project network.  He serves on the NEATE Executive Board and is active in the Teacher Leadership Academy of Massachusetts.  He also teaches courses at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is co-teaching an interdisciplinary African Studies course at ARHS.  His first book, Building the English Classroom:  Foundations, Support, Success, will be published by NCTE in November. For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.

Friday, February 26, 2010
Alumni House, Amherst College

Topic:  Civil War Poetry
Discussion Facilitator:  Cristanne Miller.  Miller is the Edward H. Butler Professor of English and chair of the English Department at SUNY-Buffalo.  Prior to her tenure at SUNY-Buffalo, she was on the faculty of Pomona College.  She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago.  Her publications include Emily Dickinson: A Poet's Grammar (1987); Marianne Moore: Questions of Authority (1995); The Emily Dickinson Handbook (edited with Roland Hagenbüchle and Gudrun Grabher, 1998); and “Words for the Hour”: A New Anthology of American Civil War Poetry (edited with Faith Barrett, 2005).  On sabbatical leave from SUNY-Buffalo for 2009-2010, she is at work on a book manuscript called “Poetry After Gettysburg” and an essay on syntax and rhythm in Dickinson’s poetry.  Miller is past president of the Emily Dickinson International Society and co-organizer of the 2010 Dickinson conference in Oxford (England).  She is spending the year in Cambridge (Mass.). For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.

Friday, March 26, 2010
Porter Lounge, Converse Hall

Topic:  Dickinson and Shakespeare
Discussion Facilitator:  Harrison Gregg.  Gregg is associate registrar at Amherst College and also serves as moderator of Amherst Town Meeting. For more than fifteen years he convened the annual Emily Dickinson Walk, precursor of the Museum's Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk. He still presides at the final stage of the Walk, at which audience members are invited to read Dickinson poems and toast her memory. He describes himself as an ardent admirer, interpreter, and memorizer of Dickinson's work. For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.

Friday, April 23, 2010
Porter Lounge, Converse Hall

Topic:  "Tell me what is true” : Dickinson’s First Four Poems to Higginson 
Discussion Facilitator:  Martha Ackmann.  Ackmann is a journalist and author who writes about women who have changed America.  She is the author of The Mercury 13: The True Story of American Women Pilots and the Dream of Space Flight (2003) and Curveball: Toni Stone's Challenge to Baseball and America (forthcoming 2010). Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and she has been featured on "The Today Show," CNN, the BBC and NPR. Ackmann is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and was the 2009 Augustus Anson Whitney Scholar in Nonfiction at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The Vice President of the Emily Dickinson International Society, she is currently working on a book about the poet entitled Vesuvius at Home: Ten Days in the Life, Loves, and Mystery of Emily Dickinson, to be published by Harper Collins in 2011. Ackmann teaches gender studies at Mount Holyoke College. For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.

Friday, May 28, 2010
Emily Dickinson Museum

End-of-year Potluck Lunch.  For general information about the Poetry Discussion Group, go to the top of the page.