Emily Dickinson is my close friend. She has been for many years and I suspect she always will be. I first “met” her when I saw Julie Harris play her in “The Belle of Amherst” by William Luce on Broadway in the 1970’s. Later I began reading her poetry, which swept me off my feet. She spoke to me, she knew me, my joys, my pain - an infinite and personal voice, meeting me right where I was. My first clue to the nature of this woman was her dog, Carlo. When I learned that her constant and beloved companion for sixteen years was a Newfoundland dog, I knew Emily was no mere hot house flower. Newfoundlands are huge! Like a bear, with thick, shaggy coats, endlessly shedding, lumbering around, drooling! If this was her constant companion, there had to be something bold about her, something fun loving, something rough-and tumble. My exploration continued from there. I spent over ten years writing “A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson" and another four and a half years playing Emily in “The Belle of Amherst”.
The Japanese translation of “Wider than the Sky: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson” was released on the 1st year anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed more than 16,000 people. Dickinson is revered in Japan, and in many other countries, for her poetic genius and her power to console
JAPANESE LANGUAGE VERSION
THE EMILY DICKINSON
Early in my work on “A Voice of Her own: Becoming Emily Dickinson” I joined The Emily Dickinson International Society, largely comprised of Dickinson scholars, to increase my understanding of Dickinson’s poetry. I have been a Member of the Board and a long standing member of the society since 2002, attending meetings and conferences in England, Japan, Paris, Canada, Hawaii and other locations around the world.
The Belle of Amherst
Emily Dickinson's garden and Home, “The Homestead”, Amherst, MA
Emily’s bedroom window, The Homestead, Amherst MA
Handwritten Dickinson poem on envelope flap
Emily’s dog, Carlo
Book talk and signing announcement, Words Bookstore, Maplewood, NJ
Signing books, Hudson Chorale Concert, Premiere of “This Bequest of Wings” Dickinson cycle by Michael Conley
The Belle of Amherst
Emily’s window, The Homestead, Main Street, Amherst, MA
Emily’s writing desk, The Homestead, Amherst, MA
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Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830. She died in the house in which she was born in 1886. It was a difficult time for a woman of creative power. In 19th century Puritan New England, where a woman couldn’t even vote, or own property, living an outspoken, creative life was nearly impossible. I deeply admire Emily for expressing her own voice in the only way she could. Her poetry meant the world to her.