Emily Dickinson may well be the best writer Americans have. Her popularization of poetic techniques like enjambment and slant rhymes helped pave the way for the free verse that followed. If there was no Dickinson, then 20th century and modern poetry would sound enormously different. It would probably a lot closer to what it sounded like 150 years ago.
In celebration of Dickinson, here are some of my favorite excerpts from her poetry. But don’t stop at the excerpt…read the whole thing! If you don’t get it the first time, read it again and again.
1. The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –
10. Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
Greetings bookish folks! I know some of you are down because October has come to a close and Halloween is, once again, a thing of the past. It’s another month and celebration gone. But this is a marathon and you can’t slow down now.
With November here, have you noticed a slight chill in the air? Does the wind brush leaves past your feet when you open the front door? Do you find yourself wearing that one scarf that smells so familiar? I’ve noticed November is the month that starts all the magical buzz for the holiday season. Something is coming and people pick up their pace to grab a hold of it all. I’m seeing all the Christmas commercials beginning with flashes of red and gold and I’m as excited as ever! Who doesn’t want to decorate the tree, enjoy delicious dishes, and spend time laughing with your loved ones? Even winter snow is starting to sound charming; nothing beats a quiet nighttime snowfall.
Now, if you’re feeling a little low on spirit I’ve got something that may help. Below are eight poems and a few of their lines that have given me that old, familiar holiday and winter feeling. The smell of cookies, pine, and icing is really all you’ll need to live for the next few weeks… Well not really, but that and these poems should sure make you feel something magical.
Captivating details are laced throughout each line of Hill’s work- she grasps the essence of winter and the mysterious freedom that belongs to each stallion and mare. This is truly one of my favorites.
This may raise your wonder to imagine if history’s greatest poets and philosophers, or even any writer, were as mad as the whipping winds of winter, as mad as the mist and snow.
Bolt and bar the shutter,
For the foul winds blow:
Our minds are at their best this night
And I seem to know
That everything outside us is
Mad as the mist and snow
These poems come alive in many forms for every reader. Are they memories of winters past, spent by warm lights and deep nights? A special gathering with people you hold safely inside a memory bank? Perhaps you imagine a place you’ve never even been to, but wish you could go, even just once. It’s funny and bewildering how these poems could capture the whisper of a snowfall on a quiet street or the simple joy of sitting by the twinkling tree with family. Let these simple verses lead you into the charm and chill that only the glimmer of winter could bring.
We all know the exquisite pain of wishing we could climb inside the books we love and live in their worlds for a while. It may be easier than you think. We’ve put together the top destinations for adventurous book fans to visit in order to see the inspiration behind their favorite books, and how and where their favorite authors hung out!
1: A trip to see The Cursed Child in London’s West End followed by the Warner Bros. Studios tour.
Image Via The Wrap
Spend the day indulging in The Cursed Child in London’s West End. There’s a three hour break between the two halves, which you can spend by eating and wandering around the famous district. I’m pretty sure the alleged special effects in the play are actual magic. Prepare yourselves to get up close and personal with some all-too convincing dementors.
The following day, take the shuttle bus from London to Watford, home of Warner Bros. Studios, which in turn are home to every single prop and costume and specially built set used in the Harry Potter movies. Ride Hagrid’s motorbike, see the Weasely’s burrow complete with the self-knitting knitting needles and magic clock. Walk down Diagon Alley, see the Philosopher’s Stone, and wonder at the beauty of the life-size Buckbeak. This double-whammy has got to be the ultimate endgame for Harry Potter fans. Book your tickets approximately a year in advance, though, to avoid disappointment. Not kidding.
2. Tour of J. K. Rowling’s Edinburgh
Image Via Wow247
While you are waiting an entire year for your Cursed Child experience, another Harry Potter pilgrimage you can embark on is to Edinburgh, Scotland. J. K. Rowling wrote much of the first book in The Elephant House cafe, while looking out of the window at the stunning view of Edinburgh Castle. These days, the bathrooms are plastered in Harry Potter graffiti.
Greyfriars Kirkyard, a 16th century churchyard beside the Elephant House contains gravestones with names that inspired many of the Potter monikers! Nearby, Victoria Street and Candlemaker Row were the inspiration for Diagon Alley, while Heriot’s School is said to be the inspiration for Hogwarts!
3. Follow Patti Smith’s Adventures in New York
Image Via i-D
Though Patti Smith is primarily known for her music career, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, her contributions to the world of literature are arguably her greatest works. Her memoir Just Kids, about her time in New York with her friend and lover, artist Robert Mapplethorpe, has led many an idealistic young writer to the streets of New York City, the pages of their copies of the book dog eared, marked and highlighted, their paths mapped out.
Smith met Mapplethorpe when she worked at Scribern’s Book Store, at 597 Fifth Avenue. It is currently home to Sephora at 48th Street, which it ahs been for some time now, but you can still see the store name in gold. She writes:
It seemed like a dream job, working in the retail store of the prestigious publisher, home to writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and their editor, the great Maxwell Perkins. Where the Rothschilds bought their books, where paintings by Maxfield Parrish hung in the stairwell.
Tompkins Square Park is where the third and most important meeting between Smith and Mapplethorpe occurred. On a date with a creepy older man, Smith spied Mapplethorpe, ran up to him and asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend. The two stuck together as lovers, and then as best friends for the rest of their lives. This park was a hub for the New York punk movement. The Chelsea Hotel was Mapplethorpe and Smith’s residence for some years, during which time they befriended the likes of Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsburg, and William S. Borroughs to name but a few. She once ran into Salvador Dali in the lobby! Situated directly below the balconies of the Chelsea Hotel, El Quijote, a Spanish bar and restaurant which was always full of the hotel’s patrons. Smith recounts: “At the table to my left, Janis Joplin was holding court with her band. To my far right were Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane, along with members of Country Joe and the Fish. At the last table facing the door was Jimi Hendrix…” St Mark’s Church in the Bowery is where Smith first began reading her poetry publicly at the insistence of Gregory Corso,
4. Tour Game of Thrones Locations in Croatia
Image Via Hotel Aristan Dubrovnik
Throughout the filming of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the Croatian city of Dubrovnik has served as the setting for King’s Landing. Visitors can see the Red Keep, the House of the Undying and the setting of the Purple Wedding among many other locations. St. Dominic Street is the setting of many market scenes, City Watch scenes, as well as where King Robert’s illegitimate sons were murdered. It is also the scene of Cersei’s walk of shame in Season Five. Bokar Fortress is King’s Landing. The two-story medieval fortress is open to the public all year!
Lokrum Island is situated 600 meters off Croatia’s mainland. Lokrum functions as the city of Qarth, ruled by the ‘pureborn,’ where Daenerys Targaryen gets a frosty welcome from the Spice King. This island dates back to 1023 and, according to legend, Richard the Lionheart sheltered here after a shipwreck while returning from the Crusades. At the highest point of Dubrovnik stands Mineeta Tower, which double as the walls of the House of the Undying. Fans can walk along a high wall above the city and look out over King’s Landing.
5.Visit Jane Austen’s House in Hampshire
Image Via Visit Winchester
The 17th-century house in which Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life resides in the village of Chawton near Alton in Hampshire. It has been made into a museum where fans can see books, jewelry, and a piano belonging to Austen. There’s also furniture and other items belonging to the Austen family. The quaint country side and local houses will give you some idea of the world in which Austen lived, and the inspirations behind her settings such as Pemberley.
6. Tour of Hunter S. Thompson’s home Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado.
Image Via Newsweek
Hunter S. Thompson’s wife Anita is currently in the process of opening their home as a museum for Gonzo fans. Owl Farm was where Anita and Thompson lived for the two years of their marriage before his suicide in 2005. If all goes according to plan, you can sign up on the Gonzo Foundation website.
Anita will make the same breakfast she always made for Hunter at 2PM: grapefruit, scrambled eggs, juice, coffee, and fresh fruit suspended in Jell-O, with gin and Grand Marnier drizzled on top. After this, the grand tour of the two-story log cabin. The rooms are jammed with books, art, vinyl albums, memorabilia, and Thompson’s handwritten notes. His famous red shark convertible is in the garage. Owl Farm is also home to a German Shepard, two Siamese cats, and a flock of peacocks whom Thompson would defend with his shotgun.
7.Tour Emily Dickinson’s Amhurst Home
Image Via View from Federal Twist
One of the most lauded poets of the 20th century, Dickinson’s home in Amhurst, Massachusetts, where she lived as a recluse all her life, is now the Emily Dickinson Museum. Walk the grounds of the beautiful home where Dickinson was inspired to write her wonderful poetry about nature, and walk through the rooms where her more abstract verses were composed. The museum also hosts literary events and workshops.
Britain have just unveiled their £10 note featuring the wonderful Jane Austen, who, 200 years after her death, is still charming readers worldwide. We’ve put together a list of the top five literary ladies we’d love to see grace the faces of America’s banknotes!
1. Dr. Toni Morrison
Image Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica
Pioneer author and activist Toni Morrison is first on our list. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Morrison is an icon, an expert in her field, and one of America’s most revered writers.
Born on February 18, 1931, in Ohio, her novels, including ‘Sula,’ ‘Jazz’ and ‘Beloved,’ are known for their depictions of race and racism, and their multi-layered, richly drawn African American characters.
Morrison frequently speaks and writes about issues of race in contemporary America, condemning police brutality and the election of President Donald Trump, who is supported by many white supremacist groups.
2. Emily Dickinson
Image Courtesy of Poets.org
Arguably the most important American poet of the 19th century, Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, and was quite reclusive, spending most of her time with her family. Few people passed through her life, but those who did were the subjects of much of her poetry.
She also wrote extensively on abstract themes such as grief, hope, and nature. Dickinson wrote over 1,900 poems in her fifty-six years–all neatly written in handmade paper booklets–in her idiosyncratic style, featuring many dashes of varied length and inconsistent capitalization.
Her volumes of poetry were only discovered by her family after her death in 1886.
3. Dr. Maya Angelou
Image Courtesy of NNDB
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928, Angelou is best known for seven autobiographical books. But Angelou was also a poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist.
In 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. requested she become the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1974 she was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. Angelou performed at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton in 1993. In 2000, she received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2010 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She was also first black woman director in Hollywood, writing, producing, directing and starring in productions for stage, film, and television. She also wrote and produced several prize-winning documentaries, and was nominated for a Tony award for acting twice.
Angelou died on May 28, 2014, in North Carolina, where she had served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1982.
4. Joyce Carol Oates
Image Courtesy of Huffington Post
Oates was born in Lockport, New York in 1938 and has published over 40 novels, in addition to plays and novellas, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction and is one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century.
She has won a number of awards including Norman Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award and the PEN/Malamud Award.
Many authors cite her as an influence, notably Jonathan Safran Foer, whom she taught at Princeton and for whom she served as senior thesis adviser to any early draft of what would become his celebrated novel ‘Everything is Illuminated.’
5. Esmerelda Santiago
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Born in 1948 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Esmerelda Santiago moved to the United States at thirteen. She is the author of several books, both novels and memoirs, having come to writing through the creation of documentary and educational films.
She is a spokesperson for public libraries and has developed community-based programs for adolescents, as well as founding a women’s shelter. She serves on the boards of organizations devoted to the arts and to literature. Santiago earned a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Trinity College, from Pace University and University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.