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What Would Emily Say?
An Indeath Interview with Emily Dickinson, by Robyn Su Millerz
 More of this Feature
• “'Tis true— They shut me in the Cold—
• “Opinion is a flitting thing,
• “You cannot put a Fire out—
• “Much Madness is divinest Sense— To a discerning Eye—
 Join the Discussion
• Poems in political discourse
“What do you think? Could the First Lady reasonably expect to keep political statements out of a Rose Garden poetry symposium?”
   --Poetry Guide
 Related Articles
• Emily “The Virgin” Dickinson, 1830 - 1886
• Raising Their Voices, poets speak out against war in Iraq, by Victor Infante
• Poems For Peace, our new anthology
• Poets in the News links to other articles on poets against the war & the cancelled White House poetry symposium
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Poetsagainstthewar.org (US)
• Poets Against the War (UK)
• Poets4Peace.com at the United Poets Coalition
• Australian Poets for Peace Project
• “Not In Our Name, a statement of conscience against war and repression”
• “After the Fall,” Artists for Peace, Justice and Civil Liberties
• “Convergence,” Canadian poems for peace

Reacting to First Lady Laura Bush's cancellation of the White House symposium planned for February 12 on “Poetry and the American Voice,” many poets have asked “What was she thinking? Didn't she expect that poets would have something to say about the current movement toward war in Iraq?” Anyone who has read Langston Hughes or Walt Whitman, two of the poets whose work was to be read & discussed at the symposium, might suspect that if they were alive today, both men would speak out about the impending war. On the other hand, Emily Dickinson, the third poet who was to be celebrated at the symposium, seems to be seen by most readers as apolitical.

Robyn Su Millerz is here to say, “Not so.” What would Emily have to say about current events? Read Robyn Su's “indeath interview” with Miss Dickinson, and you'll have her commentary from the true source, the poems.

Margy Snyder & Bob Holman

          by Robyn Su Millerz

We at Dead Poets Today are pleased to invoke the spirit of Emily Dickinson, who was to have been honored as an American Voice in a poetry symposium at the White House on February 12th. Welcome, Miss Dickinson. It's most accommodating of you to converse with us from beyond the grave.We understand scheduling in Eternity is quite the juggling act.

The gleam of an heroic Act
Such strange illumination
The Possible's slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination.

What would you say to those who would dismiss these words you spoke so long ago? Do you feel they can adequately express your views on current issues?

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Well put! Now, what is your initial reaction to the uproar over the abrupt cancellation of the White House symposium? Are you somewhat amused? Outraged? What prompted you to speak to your present-day fans and colleagues

They might not need me— yet they might—
I'll let my Heart be just in sight—
A smile so small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity—

The symposium was cancelled when the White House learned one of the invited poets was collecting antiwar poetry to read at the event. What possible effect could the reading have had?

From such a common ball as this
Might date a Victory!
From marshallings as simple
The flags of nations swang.
Steady— my soul: What issues
Upon thine arrow hang!

The pen, then, in your view, might well be mightier than the sword?

I took my Power in my Hand—
And went against the World—
'Twas not so much as David— had—
But I— was twice as bold—

Had I Art—
Impregnable my Fortress
Unto All Heart—

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