2010 Programs

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seeing New Englandly, painting by Elizabeth Pol
Seeing New Englandly, cover painting by Elizabeth Pols


"Seeing New Englandly" Film Showing in honor of Emily Dickinson's Birthday

Time: 11:30 a.m.
Location: At Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity Street, Amherst
Fee: $5 (free to members of Amherst Cinema and the Emily Dickinson Museum)

"Seeing New Englandly," an hour-long documentary about Emily Dickinson, will be screened at Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity Street, on Saturday, December 11, at 11:30 a.m. The film premiered in September to wide acclaim as part of Amherst Cinema’s “Meet the Artists” series.  The December presentation is part of the Emily Dickinson Museum's annual celebration of the poet's birthday (December 10).  The day will continue at the Museum with the annual open house from 1 to 4 p.m.

Admission is free for members of the Amherst Cinema and Pleasant Street Theater or members of the Emily Dickinson Museum. Tickets for all others are $5. Tickets--including those for members--may be secured at the Amherst Cinema box office or online at amherstcinema.org. Seating is limited and advance purchase is recommended.  A talk-back with the filmmakers will take place across the street at the Amherst History Museum (67 Amity Street) immediately following the screening.

“Seeing New Englandly” displays an impressive selection of Dickinson’s subjects—the Northern Lights, wild New England weather, volcanic eruptions, the violence and outrage of war, the threat of blindness, and what she called the enduring balm of beauty. Sixteen of the poet’s poems and passages from nineteen of her letters weave through the narrative. Illustrating the film are the lush paintings of artists who, like Dickinson, reveled in the natural world: Cole, Church, Inness, Kensett, and other painters influenced by the Hudson River school.  The videography, shot in all four seasons, accompanies rarely seen illustrations from Harper’s Weekly and other publications of the period. The musical background includes works by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn.    

“Seeing New Englandly” draws upon the talents and expertise of many people in the Amherst community. The script was written and narrated by the poet Susan Snively, author of four books of poetry, including The Undertow and Skeptic Traveler.  The documentary was edited and produced by Ernest Urvater, a physicist who has created documentaries about the arts, including “Berthe Morisot: The Forgotten Impressionist” (2000) and “The Poet in Her Bedroom” (2008).”  

Among other local artists involved in the creation of “Seeing New Englandly” is Elizabeth Pols of Belchertown.  Her stunning oil painting of Dickinson at her bedroom window depicts the poet observing the private world that inspired her poetry.

Pianist Deborah Gilwood, a faculty member at Westfield State College and founder of the Blue Door chamber group, performs piano works that provide the musical background to the poet’s own “Bolts—of melody.”  Dickinson’s poetic response to death, and to the horrors of the Civil War, is accompanied by a Mohawk Trail Concert Series recording of the poignant Schubert String Quintet in C major.  Additional music is performed by mezzo-soprano Eileen Ruby, adjunct faculty member at Holyoke Community College, and by guitarist/composer John Sheldon.

Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum, notes that “Seeing New Englandly” will allow audiences “to experience Dickinson’s poetry through such riveting events of her own time as the Civil War and the search for the Northwest Passage, the nineteenth-century equivalent of space exploration.  Her formidable scientific education at Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke College deepened her response to these major international events unfolding around her.”

“Seeing New Englandly” is the second program in the series “Angles of a Landscape: Perspectives on Emily Dickinson.”  Both programs were created under the auspices of the Emily Dickinson Museum, where they are available for sale:  “Seeing New Englandly” for $29.95 and “The Poet in Her Bedroom” for $19.95. Both DVDs may be purchased as a package for $45.