graphic delve into dickinson - It feels a shame to be Alive -

It feels a shame to be Alive
Dickinson and the Civil War
Weds., October 16, 6:30pm ET


graphic delve into dickinson - It feels a shame to be Alive -For any questions, please e-mail

Registration is required for this virtual program and is offered on a sliding scale from $5 – $20.
Please select the ticket price that is right for you, and consider supporting the Museum and the participation of other educators through your purchase. Tickets are non-refundable.


It feels a shame to be Alive –
When Men so brave – are dead –
One envies the Distinguished Dust –
Permitted – such a Head –
(fragment Fr524)

Although myths about Emily Dickinson portray her removed from the issues of her day, current scholarship proves that Dickinson was profoundly concerned with and affected by the issues that caused the American Civil War and wrote many poems about them, such as this one, which implicates the speaker directly in a kind of survivor’s guilt. In fact, in the summer of 2020 as we began to write poems about the Black Lives Matter movements, we looked to Dickinson’s extensive Civil War poems for inspiration about this earlier social movement to liberate Black lives. The result is our co-written collection of poems, Within Flesh: In Conversation with Our Selves and Emily Dickinson, published in 2024. Written by a Muslim man of Iranian descent and a Jewish woman from Brooklyn, it offers a unique three-way conversation over space and time about the history of social injustices and how we begin to repair ourselves and the broken world.

We will frame this seminar with readings from Within Flesh to illustrate how Dickinson’s poems facilitated our creative work on contemporary issues and can provide the impetus for your students to think deeply about the world around them. Our goal is to provide you with materials for a unit or assignment on Dickinson and the War as a mirror for exploring social movements of our own time. As a resource, we will use two posts from Ivy’s year-long and freely-accessible blog, “White Heat: Emily Dickinson in 1862”, which explores the Battle of Antietam and the use of photography (the new social medium of the day, which radically changed the reach and effect of the war.) We will discuss how to contextualize Dickinson’s war poetry, the poetic strategies she used to represent the war, and her recurring themes and images. We will end with a few of our poetic “conversations” as examples.

Joint headshot for poets Al Salehi and Ivy SchweitzerBorn in Southern California, Al Salehi is a multilingual American poet and entrepreneur of Persian descent who lives in Orange County with a background in technology. Al graduated from UCLA and went on to study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Al is a graduate from Dartmouth College’s Guarini Graduate School where he studied Creative Writing, and currently serves on the Alumni Council. He also completed a creative writing program at the University of Oxford, Exeter College. Al’s short film Love, Basketball won second place in the My Hero International Film Festival, 2021, under the “Poetry” category. He has published and/or presented poetry in the Society of Classical Poets, The Dartmouth Writers Society, The United Nations Association, Southwest Airlines, O.C. Registrar, Dartmouth Leslie Center Lifeline’s Poetry Share, Houston Library Poetry Share, Clamantis Journal, and the Dartmouth Medical School Lifeline’s Journal. Al’s collection, Enter Atlas, was a Semi-Finalist for the University of Wisconsin’s Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry, judged by Natasha Trethewey.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in a Jewish-American family, Ivy Schweitzer has lived in Vermont for many years and taught courses in American Literature and Women and Gender Studies at Dartmouth College. She has recently published poetry in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Antiphon volume 19, Clear Poetry, Passager, Ritualwell, Tikkun, New Croton Review, Mississippi Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. In 2018, she felt called by Emily Dickinson to spend a year immersed in that poet’s most creative period in which she wrote almost a poem a day; the result is a year-long weekly blog called White Heat: Emily Dickinson in 1862, In February 2024, she and Al Salehi published their co-written book of poetry titled “Within Flesh: In Conversation with Ourselves and Emily Dickinson.” Her solo collection, titled Tumult, Whitewash and Stretch Marks, will appear from Finishing Line Press in 2025.


Posted in Events & News, Homepage.