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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Poets Are Still Musing on Pictures of Miss Emily

By July 14, 2005

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Can we apprehend the poems by reading the poet’s face? Is it necessary to know about the poet’s life before we can understand the layered meaning of his/her words? Readers of Sappho or Homer might answer “no”—yet where we have just a little information about a poet’s life, or just one authenticated photograph of a poet’s face, as with Emily Dickinson, those tidbits are the focus of endless fascination. With thanks to Anny Ballardini of the NewPoetry list for pointing out the links, we offer some thought-provoking reading on the image of Emily Dickinson’s face, a single daguerreotype of the demure “Belle of Amherst” at the age of sixteen.

from Common-Place, a Web zine of early American history & culture:
How I Met and Dated Miss Emily Dickinson: An Adventure on eBay,” by Philip F. Gura
Gura’s article is a loving account of his discovery of what might have been a second photograph of ED.

from Eclectica Magazine:
Why Emily Dickinson Would Not Smile For the Camera,” by David Graham
Graham’s essay offers a speculative perspective on Dickinson’s “distrust of photography,” likely the reason there are so few images of her face: “In this as in other things, Dickinson anticipates the century in which she never lived.”


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