The Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute

Making Black Cake in Combustible Spaces with M. NourbeSe Philip

Monday, December 12, 2022, 7:30 pm
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With her essay “Making Black Cake in Combustible Spaces” Canadian poet and writer M. NourbeSe Philip dives into the history of Emily Dickinson’s famous Black Cake, exploring the African American/Caribbean and Irish influences on America’s beloved poet.  

Philip will read from her work at The Homestead, Dickinson's home in Amherst, Massachusetts. The reading will be followed by a moderated conversation with Christine Jacobson, Assistant Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, Houghton Library, Harvard University. 

A former lawyer, M. NourbeSe Philip is the author of works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her collections of poetry include ThornsSalmon CourageShe Tries Her TongueHer Silence Softly Breaks, which won a Casa de las Américas Prize for Literature; and Zong!, a polyvocal, book-length poem concerning slavery and the legal system. Philip’s numerous honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and MacDowell Colony. She is the recipient of awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. In 2001, she was recognized by the Elizabeth Fry Society with its Rebels for a Cause Award, and the YWCA awarded her its Women of Distinction in the Arts Award. Philip has received a Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry and has been writer-in-residence at Toronto Women’s Bookstore and McMaster University.  

Each patron will also receive an electronic broadside, a handwritten poem, by M. NourbeSe Philip. 

This reading is co-sponsored with The Emily Dickinson Museum.


The Emily Dickinson Museum comprises two historic houses in the center of Amherst, Massachusetts associated with the poet Emily Dickinson and members of her family during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Homestead was the birthplace and home of the poet Emily Dickinson. The Evergreens, next door, was home to her brother Austin, his wife Susan, and their three children. Learn more about the Museum.

The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series is pleased to partner with East City Bookshop, an independently run, women owned bookstore on Capitol Hill. Pickup is available at the shop, or they ship (almost) anywhere! Check their website,