Friday, April 5, 2019
A to Z: Letters to Dead Writers: Emily Dickinson
This month I'm writing one post for each letter of the alphabet, all on the theme of "Letters to Dead Writers." You can see my theme reveal post here and learn more about the blogging challenge here.
Today's writer is Emily Dickinson
I was only six when I met you--through your work. My first grade teacher, in an attempt to improve our minds and our penmanship had us copy and illustrate classic poems.
I don't remember for sure which of your poems I copied now. I remember that two of my early favorite were the one on solitude and one that starts "Because I could not stop for Death/He kindly stopped for me." I remember that I thought you were a kid because the picture of you provided in my book showed you looking so very young.
I was already a word nerd by age six, raised on Mother Goose, Dr. Suess, Shel Silverstein, and Amelia Bedelia, with a love of rhyme and wordplay. I was fond of puns and enamored of long, elegant and unusual words that felt nice in my mouth. Our librarian helped me find a collection of your poems and I loved reading them out loud. Something in the rhythm and diction made my heart sing even when the content was beyond my comprehension.
When I talked to Mrs. Alsdorf about how much I liked your words, she said, "You know, if you want to, you can write poems, too."
I felt like the top of my head had come off. What an idea! So, I did it. I wrote so many poems. My relatives were probably tired of me asking if they wanted to hear my poems, but they were nice about it. A lot of them sounded like you: quatrains with an A/B rhyme scheme and a philosophical bent (as much of one as an elementary student can have).
Your poetry still speaks to me today, forty-some years later. I have several different editions of your poetry and more than one biography. When my mind feels unsettled, I can choose one of your poems at random, and I am instantly soothed, intrigued, and inspired. I'm so glad your words made it out into the world and across so many years into my young hands. It's part of why I write today.
Your life-long fan,