2014 Programs

Tim Van Egmond at the Circus

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Creatures of Bliss and Mystery":  A Nineteenth-Century Children's Circus

Time:  1-4 pm
Location:   Emily Dickinson Museum (in case of rain, most activities will take place indoors at First Congregational Church, across the street from the Museum at 165 Main Street)
Fee: none (except where indicated)

The Circus is coming to Miss Emily’s grounds!  On Saturday, July 19, the Emily Dickinson Museum will present its annual "Creatures of Bliss and Mystery: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus," from 1 to 4 pm on the Emily Dickinson Museum lawn. Especially perfect for children ages 3 to 10 (accompanied by adults), this event is free (except where noted) and open to the public.

New to this year’s Circus is a reading and book-signing by Amherst author Burleigh Muten of her latest work, Miss Emily, published earlier this year by Candlewick Press. Appropriately for the day's events, the plot of Miss Emily revolves around the circus' arrival in Amherst and the adventures of Emily Dickinson, her young niece and nephew, and their friends.  Muten was inspired to write her book after reading Emily Dickinson: Friend and Neighbor, a remembrance by MacGregor Jenkins.  Jenkins, a childhood friend of the poet’s niece and nephew, lived across the street from their house and came to know Emily Dickinson as they did--as a fun-loving, mischievous aunt.  Muten brings this Emily Dickinson to light in her verse novel, appropriate for children ages 8-12.  An active supporter of the Museum and its programs, Muten will read from Miss Emily and will also share some words about her “Writing with Miss Emily” camp, a program for children co-sponsored by the Jones Library and the Emily Dickinson Museum.

Back by popular demand, Henry the Juggler will perform amazing tricks of hand and eye at 1:15 pm; afterward, he will offer an informal workshop for all wanna-be jugglers. Folksinger and storyteller Tim Van Egmond will share lively tales and lead folksongs at 3 pm.

Throughout the afternoon, visitors are invited to walk the “tightrope,” balance on stilts, and perfect their aim at ring toss. Children can also make animal masks to wear and musical instruments to play during the Parade Around the Grounds, which begins at 2:45 pm.

Guided visits to the poet’s bedroom will be offered throughout the afternoon (see schedule below). Especially appropriate for young children, the fifteen-minute tours introduce visitors to Emily Dickinson and her poetry in the room most associated with her and her work.  Tickets are required and will be available at the event welcome table on a first-come, first-served basis.  The cost per ticket is $1 (children must be accompanied by an adult).  In addition, the Museum will offer its regular schedule of guided tours from 10 am to 5 pm.


1:15 p.m.   Henry the Juggler performance and juggling workshop
1:45 p.m. A Visit to Emily Dickinson’s Bedroom*
2:00 pm Burleigh Muten reading Miss Emily and book signing
2:45 pm Parade Around the Grounds
3:00 pm Tim Van Egmond Stories & Songs
3:45 p.m.   A Visit to Emily Dickinson's Bedroom*
*Tickets required; fee of $1 per ticket.  Available from welcome table on first-first come, first-served basis.


Email edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org  or  call 413-542-2034.  Click here for an event poster.

About the Performers

Henry the Juggler has been seen by tens of thousands up and down the east coast, demonstrating the apparatus of his trade--balls, clubs, rings, and torches--at theaters, schools, libraries, festivals and business districts. Henry has been performing and teaching juggling for more than 25 years, and is an active member of the International Jugglers Association and the Hats Off Performers Guild.

Folksinger and storyteller Tim Van Egmond has been delighting audiences all over the country, weaving together tales and tunes. He performs on a variety of traditional instruments, including the hammered dulcimer, conga drum, guitar and limberjack (a dancing wooden rhythm puppet). His dynamic style makes stories come alive, and his gift for encouraging participation makes for high-spirited programs.

About the Event

The title of the Museum’s annual event, “Creatures of Bliss and Mystery,” comes from recollections of a home-grown circus produced by Emily Dickinson’s niece and nephews: "It never occurred to us that we were not creatures of bliss and mystery—that the Ringmaster was really Ned with trousers tucked into rubber boots, cracking his whip and making jokes with the clown, Will Mather in private life, stuffed out with a pillow, red spots painted on his face, —or that the performance was a bit less dazzling than the one we had seen the day before, —especially if Ned sang his circus song picked up from the real ring."