2010 Programs

Spicing of Birds cover

Saturday, October 23

A Spicing of Birds: Poems by Emily Dickinson
A talk and booksigning with editors Jo Miles Schuman and Joanna Bailey Hodgman

11 a.m.
At the Amherst Woman's Club, 35 Triangle Street
no charge (books will be available for purchase)

Join us on October 23 to meet the editors of a new illustrated anthology that focuses on Emily Dickinson’s love of birds.  A Spicing of Birds:  Poems by Emily Dickinson pairs poems from one of America’s most revered poets with evocative ornithological art.

Jo Schumann
 Jo Miles Schuman
Joanna Hodgman
 Joanna Bailey Hodgman

During the October 23 program, Jo Miles Schuman and Joanna Bailey Hodgman will read a selection of poems from the anthology and discuss the history of birding in the Amherst area. They will illustrate their remarks with images from the book.  A booksigning and refreshments will follow.  Copies of A Spicing of Birds may be purchased for $22.95.

Birds--including jays, orioles, robins, and hummingbirds--are mentioned 222 times in Dickinson’s poetry. However, existing anthologies of Dickinson’s work make little acknowledgment of her close connection to birds. A Spicing of Birds contains thirty-seven of Dickinson’s poems featuring birds common to New England. Included are familiar poems like "A Bird came down the Walk" and "A Route of Evanescence" as well as those less frequently anthologized, such as "No Bobolink - reverse His Singing" and "Upon his Saddle sprung a Bird." 

In the anthology’s introduction, the editors draw extensively from Dickinson’s letters, providing fascinating insights into her relationship with birds. The editors also discuss the development and growth of birding in the nineteenth century as well as the evolution of field guides and early conservation efforts.

The accompanying illustrations include watercolors by Mark Catesby, engravings of John James Audubon’s paintings, illustrations by Alexander Wilson, chromolithographs by Robert Ridgway (curator of birds at the United States National Museum for some fifty years), paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and some of the earliest bird photographs by Cordelia Stanwood. Brief biographies of the artists are included in an appendix.

Published by Wesleyan University Press, A Spicing of Birds is an eloquent tribute to the special place held by birds in our lives and imaginations, and will make an ideal gift for both birders and poetry readers.

Jo Miles Schuman is an avid birder and the author of Art from Many Hands, Multicultural Art Projects (1981, 2002) and lives in Phippsburg, Maine. Joanna Bailey Hodgman has enjoyed a lifelong interest in reading and writing poetry. A retired English teacher, she lives in Rochester, New York.