Decoding Emily Dickinson

Top scholar Helen Vendler joins us for a deep look at Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson's daguerreotype circa 1846 (Amherst College Archives and Special Collections)

Emily Dickinson's daguerreotype c. 1846 (Amherst College Archives and Special Collections)

The poet Emily Dickinson published virtually nothing in her lifetime, but wrote a universe. Nearly eighteen hundred poems, neatly pinned in handmade booklets in her 19th century seclusion.

But what power. And what a mind. Terse, abrupt, surprising, unsettling, flirtatious, savage – says top scholar Helen Vendler, who’s turnied her eye on Dickinson. Not to mention metaphysical, provocative, blasphemous, tragic and funny.

Helen Vendler is with today on Emily Dickinson.

So is this year’s Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Rae Armantrout, as we look at the poetry of Emily Dickinson

-Tom Ashbrook


Helen Vendler, leading American poetry critic. She’s professor of English at Harvard University, and author of Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries.” You can read an excerpt.

Rae Armantrout, Pulitzer prize-winning poet. She’s a professor of writing and literature at the University of California, San Diego.  Listen back to our show with Rae on her Chesire poetics.

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