Emily Dickinson was VERY serious about being a poet. Her poem “It was given to me by the Gods” (Fr455) can make a powerful connection with students about the power of their own gifts and talents. Have students use this poem to discuss Dickinson’s sense of being a poet and as a prompt to write about their own gifts.
Emily Dickinson described herself in a letter: “[I] am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur – and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves” (L269). So few words give her recipient an ample verbal portrait, but they also reveal other things about her. Discuss this description with your students, then challenge them to write a similarly concise but creative description of themselves.
Have students choose a favorite Dickinson poem and use a line from it as a prompt for students to write their own poems and make their own fascicles.
Emily Dickinson wrote “Tell all the Truth / But tell it slant” (Fr1264). Talk with your students about what this means. Have them write a personal memory but write it “slant.” (This writing prompt is available as a PDF with the complete text of the poem.)
Have the students write a letter to a friend introducing them to Emily Dickinson.