2010 Programs

 Celebrating Emily Dickinson's Words logo

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Celebrating Emily Dickinson's Words

Time:  11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location:  Jones Library, 43 Amity Street
Fee:  no charge for most events

co-sponsored by the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Jones Library
funded in part by a grant from the Amherst Cultural Council and by the
Friends of the Jones Library System


A word is dead, when it is said
Some say –
I say it just begins to live
That day

        --Emily Dickinson

In honor of National Poetry Month, the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Jones Library will join together to celebrate Dickinson’s words—and the life she gave them—on Saturday, April 10, with a day of programs and activities devoted to the poet’s art and legacy.

"Celebrating Emily Dickinson’s Words" includes poetry workshops, discussions, a children’s craft and story time, a community poetry banner, a poetry open mike, and tours of the Jones Library Special Collections department and downtown Amherst. Unless otherwise noted, programs take place at the Jones Library. A complete schedule is below.  All programs except the poetry workshops for adults are free; the workshops require a nominal fee to secure enrollment, and scholarships are available. 

In addition to the full schedule of programs at the Jones Library, the Emily Dickinson Museum at 280 Main Street in Amherst will be open for guided tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants in any aspect of "Celebrating Emily Dickinson’s Words" will receive a discount coupon toward admission to the museum, valid for the month of April.

"Celebrating Emily Dickinson’s Words" is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and by the Friends of the Jones Library System.


 Schedule of Events for "Celebrating Emily Dickinson’s Words"

11 a.m.

Emily Dickinson for Children.  During this hour-long program, library staff will read aloud several stories about Emily Dickinson and a selection of her poems. Younger poetry lovers will get a head start on the community poetry banner project. Stories and craft best for 4 and up. Children younger than 6 must be accompanied by an adult.

Lyric Discoveries. During this 45-minute program, curator Tevis Kimball will share some of the poetic treasures in the Jones Library's Special Collections department. This 45-minute guided walking tour of downtown Amherst will explore the town as Emily Dickinson knew it. Includes a brief stop at her home, The Homestead.

Walking Tour of Dickinson’s Amherst  This 45-minute guided walking tour of downtown Amherst will explore the town as Emily Dickinson knew it.  Includes a brief stop at her home, The Homestead.

Poetry Workshop #1 for Adults "Obsession!" with poet Hannah Brooks-Motl  $10 fee (scholarships are available) To register, contact the Jones Library Reference Department at reference@joneslibrary.org or 413-259-3096.

Poetry Workshop #2 for Adults "Loose the Flood" with poet Henk Rossouw  $10 fee (scholarships are available) To register, contact the Jones Library Reference Department at reference@joneslibrary.org or 413-259-3096.

Poetry Workshop for Youth (ages 13-18) "The Soul has Bandaged Moments": The Ups and Downs of Being a Poet with poet Gale Thompson  Free, but registration is required. To register, contact the Jones Library Reference Department at reference@joneslibrary.org or 413-259-3096.

Noon

Poetry Banner
The Beginning of the Poetry Banner

Community Poetry Banner Throughout the afternoon, the poetry banner project invites everyone to contribute a favorite poem, word, or poetic thought to a colorful banner designed by Nan Fischlein, the Emily Dickinson Museum’s program coordinator. "The individual contributions will be ‘stitched’ together into a larger fabric piece that will demonstrate the significance of words in our lives," said Fischlein. "My volunteer crew of fabric artists and I look forward to seeing what the public helps us create." The resulting banner will hang at the Jones Library throughout the rest of National Poetry Month and will later visit the Emily Dickinson Museum. Portions of the banner will be read aloud at the 4 p.m. Open Mike.

Lyric Discoveries (see description at 11 a.m.)

Walking Tour of Dickinson’s Amherst (see description at 11 a.m.)

Bake Sale and Poetry Shop  Refreshments made from Dickinson's recipes and items from the Emily Dickinson Museum shop will be on sale in the library's atrium. (until 2 p.m.)

2 p.m.

The Power of Emily Dickinson's Poetry.  Poet Marilyn Nelson, former poet laureate of Connecticut, returns to Amherst to lead a lively and illuminating discussion of Dickinson’s poetry.

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks. Titles include The Homeplace, which a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award; Carver: A Life In Poems, a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; and A Wreath For Emmett Till, winner of the 2005 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. Nelson's newest book of poetry, Sweethearts of Rhythm, was released in 2009 from Dial, and was illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Nelson is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut; founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small writers’ colony; and was Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

4 p.m.

Poetry Open Mike The day’s events culminate in an "open mike" for the day’s workshop participants and members of the general public to share a poem. The Community Poetry Banner will also be on view. Hosted by Maureen Buchanan Jones, Executive Director, Amherst Writers and Artists.


Poetry Workshops

Time:  11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Jones Library
Fee:  $10 fee for adult workshops (scholarships are available); free for youth workshop
Registration:  required for all workshops.  To register, contact the Jones Library Reference Department at
reference@joneslibrary.org or 413-259-3096.

Led by poets from the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, the workshops will use Dickinson quotations and topics as springboards for generating new verse. The workshops are open to the general public; anyone from long-time writers to poetry appreciators with a sincere interest in giving poetry a try! Participants will be invited to share their work during the Poetry Open Mike at 4 p.m., which will conclude "Celebrating Emily Dickinson’s Words."

Workshop #1 for Adults

"Obsession!" with poet Hannah Brooks-Motl

Emily Dickinson twice wrote: "A something overtakes the Mind." Poets are often obsessive creatures, compulsively scratching at their own lives and ideas, and the lives and ideas around them. In this workshop we’ll focus on the idea of obsession and pursuit—how other poets use obsession to generate and fuel their poems, and what strategies they employ to manifest that pursuit. We’ll look at a few Dickinson poems, using them as prompts for in-class, but we’ll also consider other poets’ treatment of obsession, craft, subject matter and style. The bulk of the workshop will be devoted to generating your own poems. Participants are also invited to bring examples of their own work if they wish.

Hannah Brooks-Motl is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She holds degrees in literature from Macalester College and the University of St Andrews. Her poetry criticism has been published in both the US and the UK. With Stephen Burt she helped edit the book Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden.

Workshop #2 for Adults

"Loose the Flood" with poet Henk Rossouw

Participants will work with lines from Dickinson’s poetry, such as "The Table is not laid without / Till it is laid within" or "This World is not Conclusion," to prompt their own creative juices.

Last year Henk Rossouw gave a poetry reading in Times Square as a winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2nd annual Bright Lights Big Verse competition. "Chez Times Square" was one of four winning poems chosen from 500 entries. Originally from South Africa, Henk lives in Amherst, where he's in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts. His work has appeared in Tin House, and The Threepenny Review, and his interview with Nadine Gordimer appears online in The Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2006, he won the Summer Literary Seminars contest, with a trip to a literary festival in Kenya as the prize.

Workshop for Youth (ages 13-18)

"The Soul has Bandaged Moments": The Ups and Downs of Being a Poet with poet Gale Thompson

Emily Dickinson’s poetry reveals a poet who experienced the full spectrum of human emotions: intense passion, ecstatic joy, tortured angst, and deep sorrow. In this workshop, young poets will think about the emotional side of poetry—and our lives—by pulling apart some of Emily Dickinson’s poems and writing some of their own.

Originally from South Carolina, Gale Marie Thompson lives in Amherst and is an MFA student in poetry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She works in the Writing Program at UMass teaching Freshman Composition, and is the editor of the online poetry magazine Jellyfish. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, elimae, Juked, and Glitterpony.

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