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Howe's brilliant, idiosyncratic essay is—like much of her work—a combination of fierce rigor and deep generosity. Howe unlocks.

—Ben Lerner

Finally, My Emily Dickinson, Susan Howe's singular and unforgettable 1985 creative study, is available as a New Directions paperbook


My Emily Dickinson

Nonfiction by Susan Howe

with a contribution by Eliot Weinberger

For Wallace Stevens, "Poetry is the scholar's art." Susan Howe—taking the poet-scholar-critics Charles Olson, H.D., and William Carlos Williams (among others) as her guides—embodies that art in her 1985 My Emily Dickinson (winner of the Before Columbus Foundation Book Award). Howe shows ways in which earlier scholarship had shortened Dickinson's intellectual reach by ignoring the use to which she put her wide reading. Giving close attention to the well-known poem, "My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun," Home tracks Dickens, Browning, Emily Brontë, Shakespeare, and Spenser, as well as local Connecticut River Valley histories, Puritan sermons, captivity narratives, and the popular culture of the day. "Dickinson's life was language and a lexicon her landscape. Forcing, abbreviating, pushing, padding, subtracting, riddling, interrogating, re-writing, she pulled text from text...."

published November 1st, 2007
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