Dickinson and Plath

Recently I was back east (as opposed to Kansas!!) and had the opportunity to visit Amherst, MA., and spend some time at the home of Emily Dickinson.  We went on the “poetry” tour of the home (it’s the shorter one – me not being big on tours!!), the leader did a good job, and I was once again INTRODUCED to Dickinson’s poetry – through her home!  It was a wonderful “re-revelation.” I bought a small book of selected poems.  I spent a little time reading them over coffee at a small shop just up the street from her house.  I loved the line breaks, the surprises, the dashes making me focus on just one word at a time, her humor, the pacing of lines, the joy, and the sorrow.  Later that same day I found myself at Smith College where many of Sylvia Plath’s papers are archived.  I was very informally dressed and had not shaved for several days but the person I talked to at the Smith library led me to the archival librarian, introduced me as a Plath scholar from Kansas (!), very generous of her, and they both listened as I asked (never thinking I would even get this far!) if I could see any poems and/or papers from 1962-64.  In a few moments, as I was sitting at this large, very polished table, there was a box placed next to my Red Sox hat in front of me.  Inside were some papers, a few letters, the last one Plath wrote to her U.S. friends, something from Hughes after her death to a publisher…I don’t really remember the exact details – the papers I requested were then copied and sent to me at my home where they were waiting when I returned.  Whew!!  I had dipped into the life and death of Sylvia Plath, a brilliant poet who captured my imagination from my early days of writing.  Again, I was INTRODUCED to her power, her leaps, her fears, her courage, unthinkable language and her passion – in all the meanings of that loaded word.  Then, I began thinking that I would like to take these two “new” poets in my life and from my angle, read and write about 10 – 20 of each of their poems and explore the literary journey laid out before me.  I don’t want to insert the life details, only the details of their poems, selected by me and, then, I would take responsibility for embracing and wooing the words of these two amazing poets.  At least, this is what I would like to do…I will enjoy the risks and rewards.  Stay tuned….



About Michael

Born in Quantico, VA. Went to high school in southern California, BA from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, MFA (writing and literature) from the U. of Montana. MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary, Graduate Certificate to teach English as a Second Language. Have six books of poems published. Have given workshops/readings/or taught at Wichita St. U, Friends U., Tuzla Medressa (Bosnia), U. of Latvia, Laisma Middle School (Riga, Latvia), plus several states in the U.S. Live now in Wichita, Kansas.
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