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The Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute

Booking and details

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Dates Tue, Dec 05, 2023 7:30 pm

Tickets Pay What You Will, starting at $5 (suggested price $15)

Duration 60 minutes

We celebrate the birthday of Amherst’s bard, Emily Dickinson, with our annual birthday tribute reading. This year we highlight poet and literary scholar Evie Shockley. Following the reading will be a Q&A moderated by Tafisha A. Edwards.

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

About Evie Shockley

Her books of poetry include suddenly we, semiautomatic, and the new black.  Her work has twice garnered the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has appeared internationally.  Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and the Stephen Henderson Award, and her joys include participating in poetry communities such as Cave Canem and collaborating with like-minded artists working in various media.  Shockley is the Zora Neale Hurston Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University.

— shall become as —

you put this pen
in my hand and you
take the pen from
            my hand. the night
before the full moon
            the moon seems
full. what is missing
is a dark hungry
            sickle, the sliver
of shadow eating
            us up inside. after
the mountains breathe
their mint-and-sorrow
            green against the long
summer sky, they burst
            into hot october
laughter, lighting
the horizon with citrus,
            rust, and blood. you
put this knife in my
            hand. we pull. we
meet as oceans come
together, heaving
            against and clinging
across our salt watery
            boundary. we approach
endlessly like two rails
of one track, tied
            in a parallel that
promises our eyes to
            merge, someplace far
off in the distance. you
put this feather in my
            palm. my fingers
close around flight.


Evie Shockley, “— shall become as —” from a half-red sea, published by Carolina Wren Press. Copyright © 2006 by Evie Shockley. Reprinted by permission of Evie Shockley. Source: a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006)