EMILYTOBER: A collection of prompts for Artober

#Emilytober Prompt List – Be Inspired, October 1st – 31st!

Artists wrestled here!
Lo, a tint Cashmere!
Lo, a Rose!
Student of the Year!
For the Easel here,
Say Repose!



Since 2009, artists from all over the world have chosen to spend October participating in challenges based on lists of prompts put together by other artists and institutions. Some make a piece of work every day, some every other day, and others are happy to simply take inspiration from all the lists floating around. We’re so excited to be participating in this year’s #Artober by releasing our own list of prompts consisting of phrases from Dickinson poems! We encourage you to pick and choose from the prompts, to work from either the lines we’ve provided or from the whole poems from which they’ve been plucked, and to create in any medium you desire. We look forward to seeing what you create—make sure to tag us on social media so we catch your work! You can tag your pieces with #artober2020, #emilytober, and @emilydickinson.museum. We’ll share our favorites from our instagram account, and feature some of them here on our website!

Emilytober #Artober Prompt List, 2020

The prompts are arranged in a grid over an orange background featuring a faded image of a mushroom, and framed by images of a skull, flowers, and vines

Full text of each prompt, in order, with Franklin edition reference numbers

  1. F32 The maple wears a gayer scarf –
  2. F1158 Best Witchcraft is Geometry
  3. F1350 The Mushroom is the Elf of Plants –
  4. F168 Ah, Necromancy Sweet!
  5. F1286 There is no Frigate like a Book
  6. F407 One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted
  7. F796 The Lightning showed a Yellow Beak And then a livid Claw –
  8. F111 Artists wrestled here!
  9. F1268 A Word dropped careless on a Page
  10. F1199 For Captain was the Butterfly
  11. F1163 A Spider sewed at Night
  12. F166 Dust is the only Secret.
  13. F260 I’m Nobody! Who are you?
  14. F1393 Those Cattle smaller than a Bee
  15. F656 the Mermaids in the Basement/Came out to look at me –
  16. F1426 Buccaneers of Buzz –
  17. F140 Bring me the sunset in a cup –
  18. F1394 The long sigh of the Frog
  19. F916 Or Porch of Gnome
  20. F918 We met as Sparks – Diverging Flints
  21. F479 The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.
  22. F162 From some old Fortress on the sun
  23. F1311 Art thou the thing I wanted?
  24. F1489 A Route of Evanescence,
  25. F296 Where ships of purple gently toss
  26. F1649 Back from the Cordial Grave I drag thee
  27. F1402 His Heart was darker than the starless night
  28. F1405 The absence of the Witch does not Invalidate the spell –
  29. F200 The Rose did caper on her cheek –
  30. F89 Imps in eager caucus
  31. F710 Where Squirrels play – and Berries dye – And Hemlocks – bow – to God
  32. F43 The Satyrs fingers beckoned
  33. F1747 That Love is all there is/Is all we know of Love,
  34. F509 A curious Cloud surprised the Sky
  35. F510 Upholsterer of the Pines – is He –
Text from poem fr660: "I Took my Power in my Hand - And went against The World -"

Statement in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Text from poem fr660: "I Took my Power in my Hand - And went against The World -"


This statement was originally released on June 3rd 2020:

Today, in our distress over recent devastating events, we stand with our community and with the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice and inequality. We recognize that real change is necessary both in our country and in our museum.⁣

We believe that museums are not neutral: they should be part of public conversations on contemporary issues such as racism, injustice, and oppression. Museums have long been institutions that hold and reflect cultural values and collective memory. Now, they have an even greater responsibility to be active participants in challenging age-old and contemporary systems of oppression. ⁣

Like other museums, the Emily Dickinson Museum has a duty to examine the history it teaches and to expand the stories it tells. Emily Dickinson lived through a catastrophic Civil War rooted in racial injustice and oppression. Her family was part of a society that benefited from the labor of immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans in service to a privileged White majority. The poet’s literary work was made possible by the labor of these domestic servants. The Emily Dickinson Museum strives to tell this full story. Our new interpretive plan will place greater emphasis on the perspectives of Irish, Native American, and free Black workers in the Dickinson households, making plain issues of race and class in Dickinson family daily life. ⁣

At the Emily Dickinson Museum we recognize that this interpretive work is but one step in the greater effort to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and access for audiences, staff, and leadership in institutions like ours. Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice became an agent of change, both in the literary canon and in the lives of individuals who find depths of meaning in her account of our human condition. As an institution, we are committed to the continuous work of change that museums can and should be doing to build an equitable society.

We talked as Girls do – (392)

We talked as Girls do –
Fond, and late –
We speculated fair, on every subject, but the Grave –
Of our’s, none affair –

We handled Destinies, as cool –
As we – Disposers – be –
And God, a Quiet Party
to our authority –

But fondest, dwelt opon Ourself
As we eventual – be –
When Girls, to Women, softly raised
We – occupy – Degree –

We parted with a contract
To cherish, and to write
But Heaven made both, impossible
Before another night.

Postcard face featuring a watercolor painting of various plants and the text "a letter Back to Emily"

Lily Chandley

Postcard verso:

To: Emily Dickinson

“I have never
started a poem
whose end I knew.
Writing a poem
is discovering.”


From: Lily Chandley

JCHS 2021


Postcard face featuring a handwritten inscription in pencil

The White Rose

Postcard face:

The White Rose

Solitary she sits
Scratching paper with pen
Preconceiving Gilligan
with a paradoxical spin

Writing verse by verse
never leaving ‘herst
heads of horses neighing ’bout
if Faith and and science averse

My heart is not yet broke
so to the bog we go
listen to the bird-song cry
From the feathers floating by

And if I were to close
I guess I would suppose
that we should thank Miss Dickinson
And not just for her prose

Postcard verso:

Caleb Shultz

Postcard face featuring crayon and pencil drawings of bees, and a handwritten inscription in pencil

fame as a bee

Postcard face:

fame as a bee.
it has a song
it has a sting
ah, too, it has a

Postcard verso:

To Emily
from Jordan

I loved Fame as a bee.
by the way I say
all of your poetry
should have bin published.
but every one knows
that your the

Postcard face featuring collage of images of Emily, plants, and the following excerpt from a letter Emily wrote to Susan Gilbert Dickinson on February 24th, 1853: " - it is a long while Susie, since we have been together - so long since we've spent a twilight, and spoken of what we loved, but you will come back again, and there's all the future Susie, which is as yet untouched!"

the bees buzz louder

Postcard verso:

the bees buzz louder,
the trees grow taller,
the flowers smell sweeter
when you see the
world like Emily.
the wind carries your
poems from your heart
to ours, and there
they shall stay forevermore.

Postcard face featuring a collage of images of plants and sheet music

You’re raw + real

Postcard verso, page left:

Dear Emily,

Here’s a letter to you they
can’t erase. They can’t cut
words out of it. Burn it.
Censor it. They do that to
girls like us.

But I know you. You’re just
like me. All I can think is,
how dare they call you dark,
reclusive, morbid? You’re raw +
real. You know what’s up. And now
they’ll never erase your love.
  I’ll make sure of that.

Postcard verso, page right:


Emily Dickinson
“I need her – I must have
her, oh, give her to me!”

Postcard face featuring a painting of a sunset and the words "Ah, Teneriffe!"

Ah, Teneriffe!

Postcard verso:

Dear Emily Dickinson,

Thank you for all you
did. You inspired so many
people across different
countries, different lives…
even if you weren’t around
to see it. Happy Birthday!

      Connor Coles