Postcarding Emily Dickinson

Now, today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was fun:

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is a variation on a teaching exercise that the poet Anne Boyer uses with students studying the work of Emily Dickinson. As you may know, although Dickinson is now considered one of the most original and finest poets the United States has produced, she was not recognized in her own time. One reason her poems took a while to gain a favorable reception is their slippery, dash-filled lines. Those dashes baffled her readers so much that the 1924 edition of her complete poems replaced some with commas, and did away with others completely. Today’s exercise asks you to do something similar, but in the interests of creativity, rather than ill-conceived “correction.” Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!

And then I definitely made it my own… I chose this Dickinson poem to rework.

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And I, a Silence

I felt a funeral in my brain, where mourners made their nest
from twigs of sense, thought breaking through, all seated to be blessed.
A service, like a drum of lead, beat for this congregation –
I thought my mind was going numb, compressed into stagnation.
But then I heard them lift a box and creak across my soul
in unison, with boots of dread, that shook my spirit whole.
Again the Space began to toll, and all the bells an Ear,
and I, a Silence, shrunk within my own poor skull in fear.
Some stranger race, whose solitary calibre made it strong,
might now emerge from this stale mouth in waves of reasoned song.
My hope dropped down, a shift of worlds, and plunged me in the Knowing,
I walked the Plank, and then I thought in truth my mind was going –

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