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among the things i fear, or happy birthday, emily dickinson

December 10, 2010

Among the things I fear in the world is speaking out loud about things that I haven’t studied carefully. This *could* mean I fear things that no one has told me what to think about. This *could* mean that I doubt my own voice and my own impulses. (Those who know me know this happens all the time.)

These kinds of things immobilize me sometimes because I tend to believe I am alone in being afflicted with fear and inadequacy. But I am trying to be more generous to myself and say, “You’re not the only one.” And so when Dave Bonta invited me to read poems — and comment on the poems — to celebrate Emily Dickinson’s birthday for a Woodrat Podcast — here was an opportunity.

Even though I don’t remember studying Emily Dickinson in school, I decided I could still, as a poet, give myself a chance to be part of a community lending audio renditions to her work, commenting on what strikes me about her work. I was nervous to offer my own readings and to say anything at all. But it was a chance to be brave for five minutes or so, and I took it.

I hope you’ll listen to the podcast. It contains my own readings and musings about Emily Dickinson and the readings and comments of several other poets. It was a great experience. Thanks, Dave!

  1. December 10, 2010 11:06 pm

    Awesome!! Good for you.

    Oh, self-doubt. A very devious and mean creature. You are definitely not alone!

    • December 11, 2010 1:55 pm

      hi! devious and mean, for sure. and likely gets all its energy from us. hrmph.

  2. December 11, 2010 12:03 pm

    Gosh. Well, I loved your down-to-earth commentary, and I thought yours were among the best readings on the podcast, so I’m glad you gave yourself such a stern talking-to!

    • December 11, 2010 2:08 pm

      thanks, dave. i’m only rarely sorry when i give myself a stern talking-to. 🙂

  3. December 11, 2010 1:03 pm

    I remember reading some of her poems in my lit textbooks, but they scared me. I wasn’t ready to understand or even try to understand her imagery about Death, spelled with a capital D. Why did they always anthologize her saddest poems?

    Even though I’m working on an MA in English, I still haven’t formally studied ED. I just read her poems and see what they mean to me. And as an adult woman, they mean a lot more to me than they did when I was a girl. I will never be an expert in literature. I don’t even want to be one. I’m a reader and a writer, not a literary analyst.

    Every reader has the right to interpret literature as he or she sees fit, in my opinion. You really feel the words, carolee. i always love to hear what you have to say.

  4. December 11, 2010 10:11 pm

    You were great, of course. I was more afraid of admitting I don’t really LIKE Emily Dickinson than reading the poems…but it all worked out.

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