It took Amherst poet Emily Dickinson a lifetime to write her 1,789 published poems. It will take Dickinson enthusiasts just a few hours to read them Saturday - one by one - during the 5th Annual Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst.
The reading that will begin at 7 a.m. and continue into the night, with a few breaks, is a fun and social way to bask in the essence of Dickinson's poems, says Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, where the readings will take place.
Hello? The reading is 7am to 10pm - that's more than "a few" hours!
Apparently there's a copy-cat marathon outside of Amherst
Time for my sonnet about Emily Dickinson and web statistics again. Although Dickinson didn't write sonnets, I did a kind of echo her style a bit with this piece.
Are you thinking of me on this spring morn,
In Emily's neck of the woods? By trees
And meadows that she loved, where she was born,
Where she spent much time thinking about bees,
Apparently, and eccentricity
While decked out in white. But why are you there
Again? I ponder the felicity
Of technology, I marvel you care
What I have to say, almost every day,
When you won't hear it from my living lips,
When you know that I long to hear you say
Anything. So reflect when on your trips:
Communication takes more than just me,
Such work needs two, in close proximity.
Speaking of poetry - is anybody but me annoyed by the New Yorker style of poetry? It's probably not JUST the New Yorker, but that's where I really noticed - apparently the thing to do now is to write a poem that is virtually indistinguishable from a short essay - or a long twitter-tweet - as long as your lines are cut off, seemingly at random. Here's the beginning of a piece, "Fathers and Sons" by David Mason that demonstrates perfectly:
Some things, they say,
one should not write about. I tried
to help my father comprehend
the toilet, how one needs
to undo one’s belt, to slide
one’s trousers down and sit,
but he stubbornly stood
and would not bend his knees.
I tried again
to bend him toward the seat,
OK, first things first though - dude, WHO says "some things... one should not write about"? Certainly not the New York Times, which has a blog The New Old Age devoted to stories of people dealing with their senile parents. Do you really think this poem is subversive somehow?
But enough of the content - onto the style. Let's reformat it:
Some things, they say, one should not write about. I tried to help my father comprehend the toilet, how one needs to undo one’s belt, to slide one’s trousers down and sit, but he stubbornly stood and would not bend his knees. I tried again to bend him toward the seatExcept for the opening self-declaration of what a big iconoclast the poet is, this would not be out of place at all in any blog posting in "The New Old Age"
Katha Pollitt, whose politics and essays I love, does the same thing in her What I Understood - here is the first seven lines :
When I was a child I understood everything
about, for example, futility. Standing for hours
on the hot asphalt outfield, trudging for balls
I'd ask myself, how many times will I have to perform
this pointless task, and all the others? I knew
about snobbery, too, and cruelty—for children
are snobbish and cruel—and loneliness: in restaurants
I just don't see the point in saying it's poetry when it could just as easily be an essay. You might as well have someone get up and recite a poem and call it a short play.