Professor Martha Ackmann on the life and work of poet Emily Dickinson

DATE: May 6th
Free event via Zoom: RSVP required. To RSVP email:

We are thrilled to have Professor Martha Ackmann join us virtually to talk about her brand new book, These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson The New York Times chose the book as one of their top picks of the week of April 16th, saying that Ackmann evokes Dickinson’s life with “a storyteller’s flair” and that she has deep knowledge of the poet’s life and work, giving us a book that is: “thoroughly researched, and yet, with Ackmann’s evergetic storytelling, alive.”

This event will take place via Zoom. Lynn Rosen will interview the author and attendees can ask questions via chat. It’s a free event, but registration is required so we can send you the Zoom link. Please RSVP to

Here is a rave from KIrkus Reviews:

The subject of many biographies, critical studies, and a one-woman show, as well as the protagonist of several novels, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) has remained an enigmatic figure: a shy wraith, dressed in white, refusing to allow publication of her poems—nearly 2,000, discovered after her death. Guggenheim fellow Ackmann, who has taught a Dickinson seminar at Mount Holyoke College, persuasively counters that view with a fresh approach to Dickinson’s life and work. Focusing on 10 turning points, she creates in each chapter “a snapshot” of that moment “with the past in dissolve like a multiple exposure.” Drawing largely on Dickinson’s poems and letters, the author portrays the young Emily, surrounded by family, corresponding with friends, growing into self-awareness of her creativity. “She wanted to understand the particles of moments that others could not see or grasped with a faith she found too easy,” writes Ackmann. When she was pressed about her religious conviction, Dickinson admitted doubt: “I both believe and disbelieve a hundred times an Hour.” Her poetry, though, probed the ineffable, aiming for “evanescence like the brilliance of lightning, the flash of truth, or a transport so swift it felt like flight.” By the time Dickinson boldly sent four poems to Atlantic editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, she was composing nearly a verse a day: “My business is to sing,” she announced. . . .Radiant prose, palpable descriptions, and deep empathy for the poet’s sensibility make this biography extraordinary.

Author: Lynn Rosen

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