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,ooo postcards received as part of this 2019 project. We will be continuing to digitize and add postcards from the collection here. Come back soon!

Ah, Teneriffe!
I, Too, Treasure the Sacredness of Solitude
A Gift to the World
I have to slow down and experience it
not for fame, but for you and your friends and family
I loved your poem about a bird
Is it time for my poem?
warm and wild and mighty
Citrus Town
Along the open grass
to Emily Dickinson From Richard
as I step into the woods
“We are the grandchildren + great grandchildren of Shoah survivors…”
“I reckon – when I count at all – “
“Among Welty’s 5,000 books…”
“Born in Moscow, moved to Massachusetts.”
“…my letter to the one…”