Headshots of October poets

Phosphorescence Poetry Reading Series
Thursday, October 28, 6-7pm

Phosphorescence October 2021 featured poets:
Somrita Ganguly and Danielle Legros Georges

VIRTUAL PROGRAM

This virtual program is free to attend. Registration is required. 
REGISTER FOR PHOSPHORESCENCE OCTOBER 2021

To Emily Dickinson, phosphorescence, was a divine spark and the illuminating light behind learning — it was volatile, but transformative in nature. Produced by the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Phosphorescence Poetry Reading Series celebrates contemporary creativity that echoes Dickinson’s own revolutionary poetic voice. The Series features established and emerging poets whose work and backgrounds represent the diversity of the flourishing contemporary poetry scene. The 2021 Series will be a virtual event to ensure the health and safety of participants. While we are disappointed not to gather together in Amherst, we are excited to connect with a global community of friends and writers.  Join us on the last Thursdays of each month to hear from poets around the world as they read their work and discuss what poetry and Dickinson mean to them.

Amherst Books is the preferred book seller for the Phosphorescence Poetry Reading Series.

Phosphorescence Lineup 2021

About this month’s poets:

Headshot of poet Somrita Ganguly

Somrita Ganguly is an Indian professor, and award-winning poet and literary translator. She was a Fulbright Doctoral Research Fellow at Brown University, USA, and is an alumna of the University of East Anglia’s International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School. Somrita is serving as a judge for the 2021 PEN America Translation Prize, and is currently Head of the Department of English, Maharaja Manindra Chandra College, University of Calcutta. Her work has been showcased at the London Book Fair, and she has read in cities like Bloomington, Bombay, Boston, Calcutta, Cove, Delhi, Hyderabad, London, Miami, Providence, and Singapore. Somrita is the editor of the first anthology of food poems, Quesadilla and Other Adventures (2019), and has translated Firesongs (2019), Shakuni: Master of the Game (2019), and The Midnight Sun: Love Lyrics and Farewell Songs (2018), among other works.
somritaurniganguly.wordpress.com

Headshot of poet Danielle Legros GeorgesDanielle Legros Georges is a writer, translator, academic, and author of several books of poetry including The Dear Remote Nearness of You, winner of the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Margaret Motten book prize. She is a professor in and director of the Lesley University MFA program in Creative Writing, and taught in the Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences Writer’s Workshop, at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her awards include fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Boston Foundation, and the Black Metropolis Research Consortium. She was appointed the second Poet Laureate of the city of Boston, serving in the role from 2015 to 2019, and collaborating with literary and visual artists, museums and galleries. The Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition recognized her civic work with a Champion of Artists Award in 2017. She is the editor of City of Notions: An Anthology of Contemporary Boston Poems. Her most recent work is a book of translations from the French, Island Heart: The Poems of Ida Faubert, published by Subpress Collective in 2021.
daniellelegrosgeorges.com

 

Support Phosphorescence and Honor Someone Special:
Admission to all Phosphorescence events is free, but online donations, especially those made in honor or memory of family, friends, or colleagues are heartily encouraged and vital to the future of our programs. All gifts are tax deductible.

 

Homestead in the snow

Major Restoration Project Launches

The Emily Dickinson Homestead embarks on the next phase of historic restoration. 
This project will restore more of the National Historic Landmark home of one of America’s greatest poets to its period of historic significance.

Homestead in the snow

(Amherst, MA, February 17, 2021) – The Emily Dickinson Museum is embarking on the most significant restoration project to date of the interior architectural features, finishes, and furnishings of the revered poet’s Homestead. The project will also address long-term stabilization with the introduction of new environmental regulating systems in both the Homestead, the historic birthplace and home of Emily Dickinson, and The Evergreens, the Italianate home of Emily’s brother Austin and beloved sister-in-law Susan Gilbert. This work is the first step in an ambitious long range vision that aims to establish the Museum as the premier center for the study and celebration of the life and work of Emily Dickinson.

The project launches at a time of renewed and growing interest in Emily Dickinson and the revolutionary poetic voice she honed from her home in Amherst. Hailed recently as the ‘Original Queen of Social Distancing’, Dickinson and her work have been particularly resonant this past year. New interpretations and citations include Apple TV+’s hit series Dickinson, the new Taylor Swift album Evermore, the intimate work of Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück, and the philanthropy of MacKenzie Scott. The Emily Dickinson Museum has also happily found itself at the center of this buzz, attracting thousands of individuals from nearly 70 countries to its Virtual Programs over the past 6 months alone.

Museum Executive Director Jane Wald says, “We’re of course thrilled with the recent wave of interest in Emily Dickinson, and particularly in the home so intimately connected to her work. The Museum is committed to providing visitors with an increasingly authentic experience of the homes and grounds inhabited by the Dickinson family, and this restoration will have a profound impact on that experience. It will not only triple the amount of restored space in the Homestead accessible to guests, but also add critical details to their understanding of Dickinson’s daily life, especially as we introduce exciting new programs and interpretive themes in the coming years as part of our long range plan.”

Wald indicated that the project is able to kick-off earlier than planned in part because of funding made available through the generosity of the late William McC. Vickery–a longtime board member and champion of the Museum–for just such ‘bricks and mortar’ projects, as well as the Board of Governors’ decision to take advantage of the Museum’s extended COVID-related closure. Construction will last through 2021. While closed for restoration, the Museum will continue to actively engage audiences around the world through its schedule of online programs (EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org/events-news).

The Restoration Plan
With funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, the Emily Dickinson Museum retained Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects to produce a Design Development Report for the original portion of the Homestead built by the poet’s grandfather in 1813. The Museum also retained historic decorative arts consultant Marylou Davis to research, recommend, and, in some cases, reproduce the finishes and decor of the nineteenth-century Homestead. With the completion of work described in these studies, the Homestead will be on its way to being fully restored to its period of mid-nineteenth century historical significance, as Emily Dickinson would have known it.
 
Previous restoration projects – Emily Dickinson’s bedroom, conservatory, family library, and heirloom orchard – have created for visitors dynamic and personal encounters with the poet’s world available nowhere else. This, in addition to the purchase of adjacent property on Triangle Street to house administrative staff, has begun to allow the Homestead to shed multiple functions and regain its authenticity as Emily Dickinson’s own home and creative space.
 
Hallways
Investigation of the hallways has yielded fragments of original period-specific wallpaper, which confirm that Emily Dickinson passed through corridors and open halls decorated in a colorful gothic stylized floral pattern. Paint analysis reveals the precise paint colors for the woodwork. Restoring their authentic nineteenth-century appearance on the first and second floors of the Homestead, will reinstate the largest canvasses portraying the atmosphere of the home.
 
Parlors
The restored parlors will recapture the essentials of the Dickinsons’ daily life and interests in music, needlework, reading, art, civic and business affairs, and entertaining. The rooms will be decorated, as reported by Emily Dickinson’s niece, in wallpaper “white with large figures” and a carpet woven with “a great basket of flowers, from which roses were spilling all over the floor to a border of more flowers at the edge.” They will be furnished with items acquired at the time of Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson’s marriage in 1828, as well as those acquired to keep their home reasonably in step with fashion.
 
Northwest Chamber
The second-floor northwest chamber adjacent to Emily’s room, the space where her mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson, spent the last years of her life, will include the reproduction of wallpaper based on found fragments, removal of modern floorboards, furnishing with Dickinson family artifacts, among other details. The restored northwest chamber will illuminate nuanced family relationships and the significance of health and healthcare in Dickinson’s life.
 
Implementation of Environmental Regulating Systems
The Homestead and The Evergreens will be equipped with new heating and cooling systems that will provide the level of temperature and humidity control that historic house museums need to protect their collections. The new systems will replace aging and limited residential systems and will contribute to the Museum’s long-term preservation and stewardship goals. “With behind-the-scenes installation of mechanical systems taken care of,” said Wald, “we’ll be able to focus on the fascinating work of further restoration and educational programming.” 

Project Resources

For press-approved images, please visit: bit.ly/EDMRestorationPhotos
For additional images, please reach out to publicrelations@emilydickinsonmuseum.org
 
This phase of the project has been funded in part by a generous gift from the late William McC. Vickery (Amherst College ‘57) and in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
 
The next and final phase of the Homestead restoration project will return the property’s service wing (kitchen, laundry, and servants’ quarters) and east addition (dining room and bedchamber) to their period of historic significance at an estimated cost of $1M. Fundraising is underway for this and other projects outlined in the Museum’s recently approved Long Range Plan. 
 
We welcome partners interested in helping us build capacity for this important phase of the Dickinson Homestead Restoration. Make a donation today to make this work possible.
 
ABOUT THE EMILY DICKINSON MUSEUM
The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens is dedicated to sparking the imagination by amplifying Emily Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home.
 
Owned by the Trustees of Amherst College, the Emily Dickinson Museum is overseen by a separate Board of Governors and is responsible for raising its own operating and capital funding. 
 
The Emily Dickinson Museum is a member of Museums10, a collaboration of ten museums linked to the Five Colleges in the Pioneer Valley—Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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.

 

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.

vickery

Exciting News of an Extraordinary Gift

THE EMILY DICKINSON MUSEUM RECEIVES A $22 MILLION GIFT AS PART OF A $25 MILLION BEQUEST TO AMHERST COLLEGE FROM THE LATE WILLIAM MCC. VICKERY ‘57

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.