Homestead piano and sheet music

Virtual Poetry Discussion Group
March 19 & 26

The Emily Dickinson Museum’s Poetry Discussion Group meets monthly, September through May, for lively conversation about Emily Dickinson’s poetry and letters.

Join us from 12pm to 1:30pm on Zoom for a discussion on March 19 or March 26. Space is limited. Please submit a registration request via this google form.

This program is free of charge, but we encourage those who are able to do so to make a donation after the program.

Topic: Yankee Doodle Variations: Emily Dickinson and Improvisation

The basic facts of Emily Dickinson’s known musical life have been well documented. She was said, at age 2 1/2, to enjoy playing “the moosic” on her aunt Lavinia’s piano. As a child, she took singing lessons, and later sang alongside other students at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, where she also likely heard the Hutchinson Family Singers perform. In her twenties, she wrote of hearing the internationally famous soprano Jenny Lind, collected dozens of pieces of sheet music, and earned a reputation as a striking improviser at the piano. In fact, the Hutchinsons and Lind, among other performers Dickinson heard, were also widely recognized for their improvisations. 

Dickinson’s musical knowledge informed the writing of her poems. Judy Jo Small and other critics have noted that many poems follow familiar patterns of hymns, nursery rhymes, and ballads. Dickinson also wrote about music in letters and poems, demonstrating a nuanced grasp of musical principles. Finally, her poems’ formal qualities demonstrate the influence of improvisational performance practice. Those she kept for herself, in private, contain alternate words and markings, something like the annotated scores of a performing musician. Those she sent to friends and family were customized, often making use of these variants but seldom containing variants themselves. These function something like the extemporaneous piano performances for which she was known. 

To set the stage for this discussion, I will begin by presenting some foundational information about Dickinson’s musical life and interests, including how people of her time experienced and thought about improvisation and spontaneity more generally, both in music and in writing. Then we will discuss several poems – and perhaps a letter or two – that touch on music in social and natural settings. We will close by discussing a poem across several extant manuscripts, as an example of improvised poetic performance.

About the Facilitator
Gerard Holmes
completed a PhD in English Literature in 2020, at the University of Maryland, College Park, with a dissertation titled “‘Discretion in the Interval’: Emily Dickinson’s Musical Performances.” He has published in The Emily Dickinson JournalReception, and Women’s Studies, a special themed issue, “New Directions in Dickinson and Music,” which he also co-edited. He contributed a chapter to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook to Emily Dickinson.

a row of Dickinson's textbooks on a shelf

“A Mighty Room” Virtual Studio Session: Library
Thursday, March 4, 12-1pm

the inside of the homestead library

The Homestead Library

Sweet hours have perished here;

This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played, —

Now shadows in the tomb.  

-J1767 

Spend a “sweet hour” in Emily Dickinson’s creative space where she penned her startling poetry. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a composer, or a poet, you’ll find solace and inspiration for your artistic output in Emily Dickinson’s library. Let this quiet virtual experience jumpstart your next creative journey. 

What to expect: As one of a limited number of participants, you will need to find a quiet spot with a good internet connection from which to be immersed in a live feed from the library of Emily Dickinson’s Homestead. Plan to have your camera and audio on. In this room were gathered Dickinson’s favorite books, her “Kinsmen of the Shelves” that “carried her to lands away.” A facilitator in the room welcomes you and gently guides you through three inspirational writing prompts to help you explore this unique physical and psychic space and unleash your own creativity over the course of the hour. Focused on reflection and quietude, this program is not a writing workshop, but you will have the opportunity at the end for a short share-out with the group if you wish. 

Space is limited for this program.  Please request a space using our registration form.

This program is free to participate, but your donation helps the Museum to continue providing free programs! Participants will be invited to make an online donation after the program.

Questions? write edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org. 

My Emily Dickinson:
Video Gallery and Story Collecting Project

In honor of Emily Dickinson’s 190th birthday in December of 2020, the Museum collected your stories from around the world. So many of us feel a deep connection to Dickinson’s life, her poetry, or to both. Some of us read her work as young students in school and become curious about the woman who lowered gingerbread from her window; others of us do not find Dickinson until we are older and her poetry’s themes of loss and hope begin to resonate profoundly; still others find that Dickinson’s wit and fierce individuality is a touchstone. This project sought to document the many Emily Dickinsons that exist in the hearts of contemporary readers. We received fifty participant videos from as close as Amherst to as far away as Albania. 

This video gallery offers a range of perspectives on Dickinson from a diverse group of her readers who generously shared their stories of strange Dickinson encounters, first meetings, and deeply felt connection. We are very grateful to these story-tellers and we hope you enjoy their collective message of Dickinson’s enduring relevance in our lives today.

 

Fireplace in Emily Dickinson's bedroom

Virtual Poetry Discussion Group, February 19 & 24

The Emily Dickinson Museum’s Poetry Discussion Group meets monthly, September through May, for lively conversation about Emily Dickinson’s poetry and letters.

Join us from 12pm to 1:30pm on Zoom for a discussion on February 19 or February 24. Space is this program is no longer available. For questions, please write edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

This program is free of charge, but we encourage those who are able to do so to make a donation after the program.

Topic: “Emily Dickinson’s Hearths and Homes”
  Emily Dickinson’s experience of the family hearth and home became her metaphor for the transformation of thought into poetry.  Six poems about homes and hearths show how Dickinson used these images, how they evolved over time, and, time permitting, how they contrasted with other writers’ images of the family hearth.  

About the Facilitator
Melba Jensen has taught English, computer literacy, and mathematics to college students and high-school students since 1986. She completed her Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in nineteenth-century American Literature at the University of Massachusetts in 2005. She is a lecturer in American Literature at UMass-Amherst, and a guide at the Emily Dickinson Museum.

pencil and fascicle

“A Mighty Room” Virtual Studio Session: Library, February 5, 12-1pm

A bookshelf in the Homestead library

A Homestead library bookshelf

Sweet hours have perished here;

This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played, —

Now shadows in the tomb.  

-J1767 

Spend a “sweet hour” in Emily Dickinson’s creative space where she penned her startling poetry. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a composer, or a poet, you’ll find solace and inspiration for your artistic output in Emily Dickinson’s library. Let this quiet virtual experience jumpstart your next creative journey. 

What to expect: As one of a limited number of participants, you will need to find a quiet spot with a good internet connection from which to be immersed in a live feed from the library of Emily Dickinson’s Homestead. Plan to have your camera and audio on. In this room were gathered Dickinson’s favorite books, her “Kinsmen of the Shelves” that “carried her to lands away.” A facilitator in the room welcomes you and gently guides you through three inspirational writing prompts to help you explore this unique physical and psychic space and unleash your own creativity over the course of the hour. Focused on reflection and quietude, this program is not a writing workshop, but you will have the opportunity at the end for a short share-out with the group if you wish. 

Space is limited for this program. Update 1/29: the program is now filledTo be added to the waitlist for this program, click here. We plan to continue to offer these programs , and will prioritize participants who have been waitlisted in the past for future registrations.

This program is free to participate, but your donation helps the Museum to continue providing free programs! Participants will be invited to make an online donation after the program.

Emily Dickinson's white dress on a stand in her bedroom

“A Mighty Room” Virtual Studio Session: Bedroom, January 29, 12-1pm

Sweet hours have perished here;

This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played, —

Now shadows in the tomb.  

-J1767 

 

 

Spend a “sweet hour” in Emily Dickinson’s creative space where she penned her startling poetry. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a composer, or a poet, you’ll find solace and inspiration for your artistic output in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom. Let this quiet virtual experience jumpstart your next creative journey. 

What to expect: As one of a limited number of remote participants, you will need to find a quiet spot with a good internet connection from which to be immersed in a live feed from the poet’s bedroom in the Dickinson family Homestead. Plan to have your camera and audio on. In this room Dickinson found freedom working up late by lamplight. A facilitator in the room welcomes you and gently guides you through three inspirational writing prompts to help you explore this unique physical and psychic space and unleash your own creativity over the course of the hour. Focused on reflection and quietude, this program is not a writing workshop, but you will have the opportunity at the end for a short share-out with the group if you wish. 

Space is limited for this program and you may be added to a waitlist. To sign up please click this link to visit our registration form.

This program is free to participate, but your donation helps the Museum to continue providing free programs! Participants will be invited to make an online donation after the program.

poetry discussion group

Virtual Poetry Discussion Group, January 15 & 22

The Emily Dickinson Museum’s Poetry Discussion Group meets monthly, September through May, for lively conversation about Emily Dickinson’s poetry and letters.

 

Join us from 1pm to 2:30pm on Zoom for a discussion on January 15 or January 22. Space is limited. To request a space, please complete this google form. For questions, please write edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

This program is free of charge, but we encourage those who are able to do so to make a donation after the program.

Topic: Title: “Nerve in Marble: the Geology of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry”   
Amanda Lowe’s work on Emily Dickinson interprets the processes of geothermal activity and rock metamorphosis as central to Dickinson’s poetic forms. This discussion invites participants to explore a collection of Dickinson’s poems that use images of volcanoes, granite and marble to explore the effects of human emotion on the body. We’ll discuss the development of geologic inquiry during the nineteenth century, Dickinson’s education in it, and suggest ways these theories seeped into her poetry. Through speakers’ depictions of highly alive and dead bodies, we’ll look together at the profound impact geology had on Dickinson’s understanding of the human relationship to the natural world.

About the Facilitator
Amanda Lowe is a PhD Candidate at Columbia University who researches the presence of geologic theory in nineteenth century American Literature. She is a current SOF/Heyman Center Public Humanities Fellow and the Graduate Student Coordinator for the Freedom and Citizenship Program. 

Color-By-Numbers Craft

Color your own Emily Dickinson portrait by paint, crayon, or any media you can get your hands on!
Download here

Share your creation by tagging us on Facebook (@emily.dickinson.museum), Instagram (@emilydickinson.museum), or Twitter (@DickinsonMuseum).

 

Emily Dickinson's white dress on a stand in her bedroom

“A Mighty Room” Studio Session: Bedroom, December 18, 12-1p.m.

Emily's bedroom with her dress and bed and writing tableSweet hours have perished here;

This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played, —

Now shadows in the tomb.  

-J1767 

 

 

Spend a “sweet hour” in Emily Dickinson’s creative space where she penned her startling poetry. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a composer, or a poet, you’ll find solace and inspiration for your artistic output in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom. Let this quiet virtual experience jumpstart your next creative journey. 

What to expect: As one of a limited number of participants, you will need to find a quiet spot with a good internet connection from which to be immersed in a live feed from the poet’s bedroom in the Dickinson family Homestead. Plan to have your camera and audio on. In this room Dickinson found freedom working up late by lamplight. A facilitator in the room welcomes you and gently guides you through three inspirational writing prompts to help you explore this unique physical and psychic space and unleash your own creativity over the course of the hour. Focused on reflection and quietude, this program is not a writing workshop, but you will have the opportunity at the end for a short share-out with the group if you wish. 

Space is limited for this program and you may be added to a waitlist. To sign up please click this link to visit our registration form.

This program is free to participate, but your donation helps the Museum to continue providing free programs! Participants will be invited to make an online donation after the program.

A photo taken from the perspective of a cemetery in Bosnian, featuring rolling, misty hills on a thickly cloudy day; In the foreground is a seemingly endless expanse of field. The whole photo is in tones of deep yellows, greens and blacks.

Photography by Ivana Kovačević

A photo taken from the perspective of a cemetery in Bosnian, featuring rolling, misty hills on a thickly cloudy day; In the foreground is a seemingly endless expanse of field. The whole photo is in tones of deep yellows, greens and blacks.

The Carriage Held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.

Photography, Ivana Kovačević

Instagram: @tristram.and.shandy

 

Featured as part of Emilytober2020 with permission from the artist