2014-2015 Poetry Discussion Group

Third Fridays, noon - 2 p.m.
September through May (NOTE: fourth Friday in September; no meeting in December)

The Emily Dickinson Museum's Poetry Discussion group generally meets on the 3rd Friday of each month from September through May (except for December) for lively conversation about Emily Dickinson’s poetry.  A different facilitator each month helps to navigate the deeper waters of Dickinson's poetry.

Pay per session: The fee for Museum members is $12/session; the fee for non-members is $15/session. Season subscriptions are not available for the 2014-2015 season. (To become a Friend of the Emily Dickinson Museum and enjoy member discounts, click here.)

The Poetry Discussion Group meets in various locations around Amherst; specific locations will be noted below for each meeting date.  Attendees are welcome to bring a bag lunch; beverages and a light snack are provided.

For more information, contact the Program Department: edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org or call (413) 542-2034.

2014-2015 SEASON (Note:  All programs begin at noon and end at 2 pm.)

Friday, September 26, 2014
Location: Main Lounge, First Congregational Church, 165 Main Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: Metaphors of Enclosure and Concepts of Self
Dickinson's exploration of self often employs, to striking effect, metaphors of enclosure—chambers and houses, tombs and cocoons. With several of her major and some lesser known poems as examples, we will read and discuss how the poet's “dim capacity for wings” triumphs over the “haunted house” of her mind.
Leader: David Garnes is the author of three books, most recently Waitin' For The Train To Come In: A Novel Of World War II. A former English teacher at private schools in New York City, he was also head of acquisitions at the Columbia University Libraries and the University of Connecticut, Storrs, until his retirement in 2001. He has taught at Eastern Connecticut State University, Southern Connecticut State University, and currently serves as an adjunct faculty at Manchester Community College. He also leads book and film discussion programs for Connecticut Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Garnes has been a guide at the Emily Dickinson Museum since 2000.

Friday, October 17, 2014
Location: Main Lounge, First Congregational Church, 165 Main Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: "Dickinson and the Problem of Suffering"
Leader: Professor Geoff Sanborn is a professor of English at Amherst College. He is the author of Plagiarama! William Wells Brown and the Aesthetic of Attractions (Columbia UP), Whipscars and Tattoos: The Last of the Mohicans, Moby-Dick, and the Maori (Oxford UP), and The Sign of the Cannibal: Melville and the Making of a Postcolonial Reader (Duke UP). He is also the co-editor, with Samuel Otter, of Melville and Aesthetics. His essays have appeared in American Literature, PMLA, ELH, J19, African American Review, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Arizona Quarterly, ESQ, and elsewhere.

Friday, November 21, 2014
Location: Main Lounge, First Congregational Church, 165 Main Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: “Tell it Slant”
“Tell all the Truth – but tell it Slant –“ Dickinson wrote, in a familiar line, but did she observe her own instruction? She seems to tell it fairly straight in the poem that begins with this line (Fr1263/J1129). Does she follow her own advice in other poems? If so, how? Participants will discuss candidate poems to see if we might identify if, and in what way Dickinson tells it slant.
Leaders: Harrison Gregg & Greg Mattingly

No meeting in December

Friday, January 16, 2015
Location: Main Lounge, First Congregational Church, 165 Main Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: The Poetry Of Science
Leader: Bruce M. Penniman taught writing, speech, and literature at Amherst Regional High School from 1971 until 2007. He is the site director of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1999 he was Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

Friday, February 20, 2015
Location: Alumni House, Amherst College, 75 Churchill Street, Amherst
Discussion Title: Better in the Dark: The Problem of Unanswered Prayers
Leader: Jane Crosthwaite is one of the founding members of Mount Holyoke's women's studies program, and her academic interests focus on the roles of women in American religious history and Shaker history and art.

Friday, March 20, 2015
Location: Alumni House, Amherst College, 75 Churchill Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: Dickinson’s Use of Narrative
Leaders: Joy Ladin & Susan Snively

Friday, April 17, 2015
Location: Alumni House, Amherst College, 75 Churchill Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: Emily Dickinson and the Civil War
April 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. This sesquicentennial moment will be an occasion to reflect on Dickinson's relation to the Civil War. The War was the peiod of her greatest productivity and, as scholars have now shown, a major concern of her poetry. What did the War mean to Dickinson - as poet, woman, New Englander, and American? What is the legacy of Emily Dickinson's Civil War?
Leader: Elizabeth Young is Carl M. and Elsie A. Small Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Disarming the Nation: Women's Writing and the American Civil War and Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor, and co-author of On Alexander Gardner's "Photographic Sketch Book" of the Civil War.

Friday, May 15, 2015
Location: Alumni House, Amherst College, 75 Churchill Street, Amherst
Discussion Topic: Imagining the Wind
Leader: Martin Greenup is a preceptor in the Harvard College Writing Program where he teaches academic writing. His course, “Writing the Environment,” examines the rhetoric of environmentalism.

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