“The World Writes Back: Postcards to Emily Dickinson,” 2019

This is my letter to the World 
That never wrote to Me –
The simple News that Nature told – 
With tender Majesty


craft project

When Emily Dickinson wrote her “letter to the World,” she wrote to a world “That never wrote to Me.” Now the world has the opportunity to write back! In honor of the poet’s birthday on December 10, 2019, the Emily Dickinson Museum invites you to contribute to the celebratory exhibit, “The World Writes Back: Postcards to Emily Dickinson.” Send us a postcard, and your work and words will be on display in the Homestead where Dickinson wrote almost all of her 1,789 poems!



How to participate:

  1. Purchase or create an original postcard representing your corner of the world.
  2. Write down some thoughts! You might share how you discovered Emily Dickinson, how you’ve been inspired by her life and work, and/or send us original poetry of your own! If you like, snap a photo of your postcard and share to social media using #PostcardstoEmily.
  3. Mail your work to the Emily Dickinson Museum. Postcards received by December 10 will be included in the exhibit. Please mail postcards to:
    Emily Dickinson Museum
    280 Main Street
    Amherst, MA 01002
  4. Follow along on the Museum’s social media to see your work displayed in the Homestead! @EmilyDickinson.Museum on Instagram, @DickinsonMuseum on Twitter, and @Emily.Dickinson.Museum on Facebook. Or follow the hashtags #PostcardstoEmily and #TheWorldWritesBack.

Please note: Postcards will be displayed during family events. Please refrain from using explicit language or images. By sending us your postcard, you give the Emily Dickinson Museum the right to share your work in the exhibit and via social media. Please sign your card as you would like to be attributed.

Questions can be directed to edmprograms@emilydickinsonmuseum.org

Lesley Dill Tell it Slant

Lesley Dill to Receive This Year’s ‘Tell It Slant’ Award


The artist will receive the award at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute

Lesley Dill Tell It Slant(AMHERST, Mass., October 7, 2019) – Today the Emily Dickinson Museum announced the winner of the 2019 Tell It Slant Award. The award honors individuals whose work is imbued with the creative spirit of Emily Dickinson. This year’s recipient is Lesley Dill, a prominent American artist working at the intersection of language and fine art. Dill’s work has been exhibited around the world, and her art is in collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her opera based on Dickinson’s poems, Divide Light, was performed by New York’s New Camerata Opera Company in 2018. 

The Tell It Slant Award, which was created in 2012 by the Emily Dickinson Museum’s Board of Governors, takes its name from the well-known poem, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant – / Success in Circuit lies / Too bright for our infirm Delight / The Truth’s superb surprise.” Past award winners include Pulitzer prize-winning poet Kay Ryan, former Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and writer and A Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor. Each year, recipients are chosen from a talented and diverse pool of individuals by the Museum’s board. This year’s winner is particularly deserving of the award.

Lesley Dill’s elegant work invests new meaning in the human form. By using paper, wire, horsehair, photography, foil, bronze, and music to convey the complexity of communication, much of her work alludes to or draws directly from the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Like the Amherst poet herself, Dill uses her provocative and intricate art to challenge the viewer to confront their linguistic relationships and perceptions of language.

“Using the written word as both a signifier and a kind of decorative motif,” Michael O’Sullivan writes for The Washington Post, “Dill covers everything she does with a seeming jumble of often illegible letters. Forcing the viewer to squint, stoop and search, sometimes in vain, for recognizable sentences, the artist creates messages that are as much a kind of linguistic code—marks representing ideas—as they are mute blemishes, abstractions whose resonance has more to do with emotion than rhetoric.”

If “language is just a series of symbols imbued with the meaning and power we give them,” Lennie Bennett writes for The Times, then Dill’s use of language as art “seeks a different affirmation, a more private pact that doesn’t require one necessarily to know a language, only to understand its intent.”

Dill will receive the award during the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute on December 9. The annual celebration brings together speakers, scholars, and fans of Emily Dickinson’s work to celebrate the illustrious poet and her writing. This year’s tribute will feature poet Tom Sleigh, who will read his favorite Dickinson poems and share from his own work, and Dill, who will discuss her Dickinson-inspired work. Following the presentation, the two artists will have a conversation about their shared muse.

Since its inception, the Emily Dickinson Museum has welcomed more than 150,000 visitors from 50 countries and serves as the premier center for study, interpretation, and celebration of Emily Dickinson’s place in literature, history, and culture. These awards will support the Museum’s mission to spark the imagination by amplifying Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at www.EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org.


Amherst Arts Night Plus Open Mic and Featured Artists, December 5, 2019

Amherst Arts Night PlusJoin us at the Emily Dickinson Museum during Amherst Arts Night Plus on December 5, 2019 for our monthly Open Mic. Poets, writers, and performers of any kind are welcome! Come early to view the pop-up, contemporary art exhibition in the Homestead by our featured artist. The open mic begins at 6:00 p.m. and will be followed by this month’s featured readers. Those who would like to share their work should arrive between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. to sign up.

Featured Readers: Readings follow the open mic

The Literacy Project presents ‘Our Mirror: Reflections of The Valley’. These original poems, essays, and stories are written and read by students of The Literacy Project. The Literacy Project provides adult basic education programs and opportunities that support participants to engage meaningfully and equitably in the economic, social, cultural and civic life of their communities. With a staff of 20 and 75 volunteers, the Project now offers classes in basic literacy, high school equivalency and college and career readiness at 5 locations in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts: Greenfield, Orange, Northampton, Amherst and Ware.

Emily Dickinson daguerreotype, showing the poet seated and facing the viewer, resting one arm on a desk

Folger Shakespeare Library’s Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute, December 9, 2019

Folger Dickinson Birthday Tribute

Join us in Washington D.C. at the Folger Shakespeare Library on December 9 to celebrate the birthday of Emily Dickinson!

Each year, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute brings speakers, scholars, and fans of Emily Dickinson’s work together to celebrate the illustrious poet and her writing. This year, the event will feature Tom Sleigh, reading from his favorite Dickinson poems and sharing his own work, and Lesley Dill, the winner of this year’s Tell It Slant Award

To purchase tickets to the Birthday Tribute, please visit the Folger’s website

If you would like to attend the presentation of the Tell It Slant Award, a limited number of Patron Level tickets are available. Patrons of the Tell It Slant Award will be recognized in programming and receive reserved seating at the event. You may purchase Patron Level tickets online, by calling 413-542-5084, or emailing Development@EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org

More about the artists:

Artist Lesley Dill works with paper, wire, horsehair, photography, foil, bronze, and music. Her artworks are in the collections of over 50 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her opera based on Dickinson’s poems, Divide Light, was performed by New York’s New Camerata Opera Company in 2018.

Tom Sleigh’s ten books of poetry include Army Cats (John Updike Award) and Space Walk (Kingsley Tufts Award). His book of essays, The Land Between Two Rivers: Writing in an Age of Refugees, is being published as a companion piece to his latest book of poems, House of Fact, House of Ruin.


Emily Dickinson Birthday Open House, December 14, 2019

1-4PM at the Emily Dickinson Museum

Emily Dickinson BirthdayYou are cordially invited to celebrate Emily Dickinson’s 189th birthday at her home, the Emily Dickinson Museum! On December 14 join us for a festive open house. Tour the houses for free, enjoy the Holiday decorations and live music, create an artistic postcard to add to our “The World Writes Back: Postcards to Emily Dickinson” project, and, of course, enjoy coconut cake made from the poet’s own recipe. All are welcome and no fee or reservations are required. 

Check back soon for the full open house schedule!

About Dickinson’s birthday: Emily Dickinson, the middle child of Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson, was born on December 10, 1830, in the family Homestead on Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts. She celebrated 55 birthdays before her death in 1886. As an adult she wrote, “We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” (Johnson L379)


“Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life”, with Marta McDowell, December 15, 2019

4:30-6PM at the Amherst Woman’s Club at 35 Triangle Street, Amherst, MA

The cultivated world of plants, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs provided Emily Dickinson with a constant source of inspiration and companionship. On December 15, take a seated “tour” of Dickinson’s gardens with the author of Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Poet. Led by celebrated garden historian and 2018 Gardener-in-Residence Marta McDowell, this talk will treat visitors to a seasonal exploration of the poet’s passion for the natural world. 

A book signing follows the talk. Books will be available for purchase at the program. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.  Parking for this program is available at the Amherst Woman’s Club. 

About Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life (Timber Press, 2019):

Emily Dickinson was a gardener as well as a poet.  She tended flowers in her Amherst, Massachusetts garden and in the small conservatory that her father added on to their brick house on Main Street.  Flowers have their own poetry.  As she said, “flowers…, without lips, have language.”  Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life explores the plants and places of Dickinson’s life alongside her poetry.

Richly illustrated with selections from Dickinson’s herbarium, period botanical art by three of Dickinson’s contemporaries, historical images, and new photographs, Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life traces this little-know part of Dickinson’s life. It beautifully reveals the many ways her passion for plants sparked her creativity and inspired much of her beloved poetry.

About Marta McDowell:

Marta McDowell teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden and consults for private clients and public gardens.  Her latest book is Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, 2019. Timber Press also published The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, New York Times-bestselling All the Presidents’ Gardens, and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, now in its seventh printing.  Marta is working on a new book about The Secret Garden and its author, Frances Hodgson Burnett, due out from Timber Press in 2022. She is the 2019 recipient of the Garden Club of America’s Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for outstanding literary achievement. 

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

‘a mighty room’: Studio Sessions in Emily Dickinson’s Bedroom

woodcut showing a bird and a picnic basket and the words I should love to pass an hour with you - Emily

Sweet hours have perished here;

This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played, —

Now shadows in the tomb.  



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 experience jumpstart your next creative journey.

Participants may spend up to two hours in the bedroom. A small table and chair will be provided. Participants will experience the atmosphere of Dickinson’s corner bedroom, and enjoy the view from the poet’s windows.  Read more


Exciting News of an Extraordinary Gift


The Endowed Gift, the Largest Ever Received by the Museum, is to be Used for the Maintenance and Improvement of Its Buildings, Grounds and Collections

The Remainder Will Fund the Maintenance of Pianos for the College’s Music Department

(AMHERST, Mass., June 5, 2019) — Amherst College today announced a gift of approximately $25 million from the late William McC. Vickery ’57 to the College’s endowment, approximately $22 million of which is designated for use by the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass. The transformative gift, the largest ever received by the museum, will be known as the “William McCall Vickery ’57 Emily Dickinson Fund” and is specifically earmarked for the maintenance and improvement of its buildings, grounds and collections. Vickery, who was a devoted Amherst alumnus, volunteer, employee and supporter, also was a founding member of the Dickinson Museum’s board of governors.

The Emily Dickinson Museum was founded in 2003 when the neighboring house, The Evergreens, a 19th-century Dickinson home, was transferred to the College. (The Dickinson Homestead has been owned by the College since 1965.). Today, the Museum includes those two historic structures, three acres of the original Dickinson landscape, and more than 7,000 objects. The Museum, a part of Amherst College, earns and raises independently the majority of its own resources.

Of Vickery’s gift, Amherst College President Biddy Martin said, “There was no aspect of Amherst’s mission that did not interest him, no area of the College that did not benefit from his energetic, wry, and deeply insightful engagement. His gift to the Emily Dickinson Museum is a gift to us all and to generations to come, as is his gift to the College’s Department of Music. Bill understood and he helped ensure that the poetry and music that were special to him will remain at the heart of Amherst.”

A pivotal figure in the Museum’s advancement over the last 16 years, “Bill Vickery truly cherished the Emily Dickinson Museum,” said Executive Director Jane Wald. “He was acutely aware of the importance—and possibility—of restoring Emily Dickinson’s Homestead, her brother’s house, The Evergreens, and the historic gardens and grounds. He was at the lead in every undertaking for the Museum’s improvement, and his quiet enthusiasm was infectious and never deterred. His transformative gift will enable the Museum to become the true center of celebration of Emily Dickinson’s life and work.”

Part of the Vickery’s gift will be used to create the “William McCall Vickery ’57 Piano Fund” to fund the restoring, rebuilding, repairing and purchasing of pianos for the College’s music department. A patron of the music program at Amherst, in 2007, in honor of his 50th reunion, Vickery endowed The William McCall Vickery 1957 Professorship, honoring a senior faculty member who is distinguished by and dedicated to teaching and research of art history or musicology.

John Beeson ‘71, chair of the Board of Governors, said, “Bill’s extraordinary legacy gift will inspire others to support a wide range of projects related both to historic preservation and to the continued expansion of key programs about Emily Dickinson’s life and significance. It will require that continued support to help realize the full potential of Bill Vickery’s vision.”

Born in Savannah, Ga., Vickery attended Ridgewood High School in New Jersey. At Amherst College, he majored in economics and graduated cum laude. After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, he launched a 27-year career in advertising with Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in New York City. In 1987, Vickery retired as vice chair of the company’s board and chair of DFS International. The year following his retirement, Vickery began his “second career” at his alma mater, holding positions in Advancement and as assistant treasurer until his retirement in 2008. Throughout his life, Vickery contributed generously to more than 26 individual funds at Amherst College, including the Russian Culture Fund, the Robert Frost Statue Fund, the squash courts renovation fund, the Orchestra Fund, the women’s basketball program, and the Choral Society, and he endowed the William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art.

Throughout the years, Vickery’s philanthropy set an example and inspired others to support the Emily Dickinson Museum. He served on its collections and physical plant committee and development committee and was a generous supporter of the Museum’s operations and restoration projects, including the campaign to restore Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in 2014, which Vickery led and championed.

“My husband, Hubbard, and I shared a wonderful friendship with Bill for most of our lives,” said Linda Smith, a member of the Museum’s Board of Governors. “He led us and many others into supporting the Emily Dickinson Museum in so many ways. He believed in the truth and enduring nature of Dickinson’s poetry, and he demonstrated his commitment to the Museum’s future over and over again by his extraordinary generosity.” 

Since its inception, the Museum has welcomed more than 150,000 visitors from 50 countries and serves as the premier center for study, interpretation, and celebration of Emily Dickinson’s place in literature, history, and culture. This generous gift will support the Museum in furthering its mission to spark the imagination by amplifying Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at www.EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.


Exciting News About Our Recent Grants


The grants will be used to improve and increase access to Emily Dickinson’s poetic and personal legacy in the place she called home.

cupola(AMHERST, Mass., August 28, 2019) – Today the Emily Dickinson Museum announced that it will receive over $100,000 in grants for interpretive planning, operational support, and restoration. The largest of the grants is a Public Humanities Planning grant of $63,025 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEH award will support a year of interpretive planning to unite the Museum’s historic spaces and collections to better serve its growing contemporary audience. Public Humanities Planning grants from the NEH are typically awarded for up to $40,000 per grantee, but larger sums are granted to exceptionally ambitious and complex proposals like the Museum’s.

Program Director Brooke Steinhauser says the grants will allow the Museum to “incorporate current scholarship and more inclusive methodologies of interpretation” into its already vibrant programming. As the site of the largest and most varied collection of non-manuscript objects associated with Emily Dickinson and her family, and as the site where Dickinson penned nearly all of her 1,789 poems, the grants will help the Museum to consider how to provide interpretation of and access to its resources, resulting in the best possible visitor experience.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is one of 16 humanities projects this cycle to receive a grant from the NEH for planning or implementation, all of which will support vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The National Endowment for the Humanities preserves America’s rich history and cultural heritage, by encouraging and supporting scholarship and innovation in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and other humanities disciplines. In addition to the work at the Emily Dickinson Museum, this round of grants will enable continued work on the papers of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as publication of the complete speeches, correspondence, and writings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt, and a new scholarly edition and translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In addition to the NEH grant, the Museum will receive $30,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund and $12,200 from the Massachusetts Culture Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio. The planning grant from the Facilities Fund will be used to plan the restoration of the hallways, parlors, and bedrooms in the Museum, tripling the amount of restored interpretive space in the Homestead. The grant from the Cultural Investment Portfolio will support operations at the Museum. Executive Director Jane Wald says the grants will help to transform the Museum’s interpretation by “preparing to restore this private poet’s public spaces to their appearance during her most important writing years.”

Since its inception, the Emily Dickinson Museum has welcomed more than 150,000 visitors from 50 countries and serves as the premier center for study, interpretation, and celebration of Emily Dickinson’s place in literature, history, and culture. These awards will support the Museum’s mission to spark the imagination by amplifying Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at www.EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. 

Managed in collaboration with MassDevelopment, the Cultural Facilities Fund provides major improvement grants to nonprofit cultural organizations, in recognition of their profound economic impact on communities across Massachusetts. Since 2006, the Fund has encouraged sound growth, supported important development projects, played a crucial role in the growth of local tourism, created thousands of jobs, and driven millions of dollars in private investment.

The Cultural Investment Portfolio provides both general operation and project-based grants to nonprofit organizations that enrich Massachusetts’ cultural life. The Portfolio works to strengthen a cultural sector that generates $1.2 billion in economic activity, creates thousands of jobs, and delivers programs to more than 20 million people a year. Not just a funder, the Portfolio is a source of invaluable expertise, advocacy, and peer dialogue.