Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Emily Dickinson Archive

There is a new superb poetry resource now on the web, particularly useful for those of us teaching and studying Emily Dickinson for the Leaving Certificate: the Emily Dickinson Archive from Harvard University.

To summarise in the site's own words, this is what you can now do -
  • Browse images of manuscripts of her poems by first line/title, date, or recipient.
  • Use the image tools to zoom in and examine the poet’s handwriting, paper, sewing holes, and other features.
  • Choose the Reading View to see the back of a page, or to turn the pages of one of Dickinson’s manuscript books.
  • Search the full text of six editions of Dickinson’s poems.
  • See how different editors have transcribed Dickinson’s poems over more than 100 years.
  • Explore Emily Dickinson’s Lexicon, and jump from words in her dictionary to the poems to see the word in context. [needs registration at the Lexicon first]
  • Create an account to make notes on an image, save your own transcription of a poem, and create your own edition.

[Update, January 2014]

Another excellent and beautiful resource is the newly-published hardback, Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin. This collects and reproduces illustrations of the 'envelope poems' that Dickinson wrote later in her life. As Bervin writes in her introduction, 

'Dickinson's writing materials might best be described as epistolary. Everything she wrote - poems, letters, and drafts, in fascicles, on folios, individual sheets, envelopes, and fragments - was predominantly composed on plain, machine-made stationery ... When Dickinson approached her compositional space to write, she was reading and responding to her materials.'

This is a fascinating book which gives a vivid visual insight into Dickinson's compositions.

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