• Ryanne Harper

Emily Dickinson


I am the first to admit I'm not a huge fan of poetry. That said, I've read more poetry collections this year than I've read in my entire life. Three. I've read three. Helium by Rudy Francisco, Neil Hilborn's Our Numbered Days, and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I enjoyed them. I just didn't love them. I'd rather read a short story than a poem. Anyway, yesterday would have been Emily Dickinson's birthday. I tried to find some interesting facts about Emily Dickinson but, being a recluse for most of her life, the opportunity for interesting life events didn't occur often.

Here's what I found:

Her wardrobe consisted of nothing but white. I find this very brave. I love white clothing, but almost immediately ruin it. I mean, a few weeks ago I thought I was looking pretty put together only to discover I had dried oatmeal on my sleeve. So, yeah, white isn't the best idea for me.

She would only speak to people through closed doors. No face time at all. When her father died, the family held his funeral service in the hallway so she could listen in. I find this more sad than interesting. In fact, I find Emily Dickinson pretty sad. I'm all about alone time, but to be unable to leave your room ever is beyond taking some time for yourself.

She completely ignored all the rules regarding poetry. This I admire. However, because of her word choices and unorthodox use of punctuation, the few people she trusted enough to share her work with talked her out of publishing. So, despite being a prolific writer, she only published a handful of poems during her lifetime.

Lastly, she was part of a weird family scandal. Her brother was married to a woman who Emily corresponded with but never met in person. Her brother also had a very public affair with another woman Emily corresponded with. When it came time to choose sides, Emily sided with the wife. After Emily's death, the girlfriend edited and published Emily's work. Meanwhile, the sister-in-law attempted to take credit for Emily's work. The feud between the two families went on long after Emily's death.


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