Civility and Strangeness: Emily Dickinson’s Diction
with Billy Collins
Offered in partnership with The Morgan Library & Museum
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our gathering will focus on the intricate poetry of Emily Dickinson, with a special eye on how to present such challenging poems in the classroom. I want to draw your attention to a number of features common to most of her work, including her simple meter and her use of a “double diction,” but I also want to hear about your Dickinson experiences. We won’t have quite enough time to look at the nearly 1800 poems that survive, so we will concentrate on 10 of them and hope we can do them justice. No doubt, we will each bring our own “Emily” to the discussion, which should lead to an interesting mix of notions about her and her poetry. If we all learn something from one another, we can call the seminar a success.

Billy Collins has a unique place in American letters. No poet since Robert Frost combines such high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States, his books break sales records, and his readings are often standing room only. His books include Questions about Angels; The Art of Drowning; Picnic, Lightning; Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes; Sailing Alone around the Room; Nine Horses; The Trouble with Poetry; Ballistics; Horoscopes for the Dead and, most recently, Aimless Love. He’s a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College.