What I can do – I will –

What I can do – I will –
Though it be little as a Daffodil –
That I cannot – must be
Unknown to possibility –

image of the Homestead in spring

Inspired by the continuing wave of intense interest in Emily Dickinson around the world, we’re building a multi-year education plan to bring the wealth of the Museum’s historical, interpretive, and pedagogical expertise to K-12 and College educators and students. Immersive in-person learning experiences and dynamic virtual/remote modules will offer multiple ways to access the Museum’s education programs.  Our goal is to bring the power of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, place and life’s story to bear on inquiry-based education experiences that kindle curiosity, creativity and self-expression in learners of all ages.

We’re beginning our education initiatives with a six-session educator professional development series that explores Dickinson-related digital resources, object-based learning, teaching Dickinson’s poetry, and creative writing responses. Over the next couple of months, we’ll develop a robust curriculum unit for middle and high school teachers and learners focused on the ways Dickinson embraced her unique personal vision, defying expectations in her life and in her poetry. On tours of the Homestead, students will consider why and how Dickinson used poetry to ask questions and challenge norms. Through hands-on exercises, they’ll learn about Dickinson’s experiments with poetic form and variant word choices – that is, the nuts and bolts of the creative process. Newly designed education kits will be available physically or digitally to support this and other outreach programs.


The Emily Dickinson Museum is also developing new interpretive themes and tools to give visitors a broader range of ways to experience Emily Dickinson’s home, poetry, and life’s story. Bringing interpretive interventions to the Homestead — lively vignettes, poetry and musical soundscapes, projection mapping to enliven our sense of Dickinson’s nineteenth century milieu – will require research, design, writing, and staff training.

Meanwhile, at The Evergreens, we’ve just re-opened the house after a substantial upgrade to the air handling systems to protect the large collection of Dickinson family possessions. One of the most significant aspects of opening is the need to train new guides in updated interpretive information for visitors. This intensive training takes weeks to complete so that guides are fully ready to offer visitors an informative and exhilarating experience. And, now, with the systems work behind us, we’ll begin a deliberate multi-year process of room-by-room preservation, which we intend to carry out as part of the tour interpretation.


Year after year, the Museum presents programs focusing exclusively on poetry – Emily Dickinson’s own work, the monthly Phosphorescence Contemporary Poetry Series featuring both established and emerging poets, and our week-long Tell it Slant Poetry Festival each fall. These programs gather a community eager to experience Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice and the work of those for whom Dickinson was a singular inspiration. For our virtual programs, participants tune in from all over the world to celebrate, learn, and connect with others who value poetry as they do.

To produce such vibrant poetry programming, Museum staff spend weeks each year soliciting and reviewing program proposals, working with a streaming service to share our larger events (though expense prohibits us from streaming all events), and setting up a digital event platform where participants can network, find event links, and reserve seats. For the Poetry Festival, our largest hybrid program, the Museum staff send numerous communications to the thousands of event registrants with event links and program-specific information. Extra staffing is required to not only ensure orientation and welcome of in-person visitors, but to run the virtual space, ensuring that the live stream is an engaging experience for remote participants.


We’re truly excited about these three vital areas of programming, which are offered at low cost or no cost to make them broadly accessible. For that reason, we’re especially grateful for your support in enacting our core mission to “spark the imagination by amplifying Emily Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home.” To initiate new programs and to sustain existing efforts, we hope you’ll consider making a gift for education, interpretation, and poetry. If you’d like to talk over these goals, I would be very pleased to set up a phone, Zoom, or personal meeting with you!

With my appreciation and best wishes,
Jane H. Wald Jane and Robert Keiter Family Executive Director

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