1864 was a turbulent year for Emily Dickinson. With the Civil War still raging and a consequential presidential election looming, Dickinson faced a medical crisis that kept her confined for months. Nonetheless, she wrote nearly one hundred poems that year, and many of them speak directly to the times that we are in now. Although Dickinson’s poetry can be challenging or even intimidating to readers new and well-versed alike, readers find that her incisive expression of the human experience is well worth the effort. Join us for a program of discussion and exploration as we tackle some beloved favorites and some lesser-known Dickinson poems from 1864. Participants of all levels of comfort with Dickinson are welcome and should be prepared to engage in group conversations facilitated by Bruce Penniman.
About the facilitator: Bruce M. Penniman taught writing, speech, and literature at Amherst Regional High School from 1971 until 2007 and recently retired (again) as the site director of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1999 he was Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Teacher of the Year, and he is the author of Building the English Classroom: Foundations, Support, Success (NCTE, 2009). He has served as a teacher curriculum mentor in all four NEH Emily Dickinson: Person, Poetry, and Place workshops and has facilitated discussions in the Poetry Discussion Group on topics ranging from “Emily Dickinson and the Bible” to “Emily Dickinson and Science.”
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