The World Writes Back: Postcards to Emily Dickinson

Inspired by the poem “This is my letter to the World / That never wrote to Me –,” this exhibition showcases the powerful, global impact of  Emily Dickinson’s poetry. In late 2019, the Emily Dickinson Museum invited the public to contribute to a crowd-sourced project with a simple prompt: to purchase or create an original postcard with greetings to Emily Dickinson from their corner of the world. The response was overwhelming, as hundreds of postcards poured in from as near as Amherst and as far as Russia. Postcards arrived from thirty-one states and twenty-one countries, and were written in English, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, French, Irish, and Portuguese. Particularly inspiring was the outpouring of submissions from students around the country, including entire classes at twenty schools.

The resulting kaleidoscopic collection is adorned with original artwork, poetry, and keepsakes, and is at times confessional, humorous, and tender.  The works explore themes as diverse as art, nature, grief, politics, home, poetry, and love. Many provide intimate snapshots of the senders, and include poignant notes connecting Dickinson’s poetry to significant aspects of their own lives. In this virtual exhibition, explore high definition images of a selection of the postcards the Museum received, and discover for yourself how Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice resonates in diverse contemporary lives.

The Museum is grateful to the senders of the estimated 1,000 postcards received as part of this 2019 project. We will be continuing to digitize and add postcards from the collection here. Come back soon!

Postcard of Emily Dickinson inspired watercolor painting
Postcard featuring collage, map of Memphis
Color postcard from Finland
Color postcard of Alba, Italy
Postcard from Tarquinia
Postcard of ferris wheel and eiffle tower
Color postcard of countryside and Irish thank you
Color postcard of Wroclaw landmarks
Postcard of New York skyline at sunset
Postcard of oil on canvas depicting seaside, William Merritt Chase
Postcard of the Van Wickle Gates of Brown University
Color postcard with illustration of girl with bird
Color postcard/chocolate wrapper
Color postcard with collage
Color postcard of Paris, balcony, and birds
Color postcard of watercolor landscape
Color postcard of painted Isles of Shoals, Maine
Color postcard with statue of Eleonora d' Arborea
Postcard face featuring a watercolor painting of various plants and the text "a letter Back to Emily"
Postcard with pink and blue watercolor paint
Color postcard of downtown Pittsburgh and rivers intersecting
Postcard face featuring a watercolor painting of an orchard, bees, and a bird singing the lines "some keep the sabbath", "a bobolink for a chorister", "an orchard for a dome" and "our little Sexton - sings"
Postcard face featuring a handwritten inscription in pencil
Postcard face featuring crayon and pencil drawings of bees, and a handwritten inscription in pencil