Abstract

The later manuscripts of Emily Dickinson are distinct in that, unlike the poems written before 1875—poems that Dickinson would transcribe onto clean bifolium sheets of paper and then either bind or group together into fascicles and sets—these later poems and poetic fragments have been left in their "worksheet" state; that is, scripted onto scraps of paper, the backs of envelopes, bits of newspaper cutting and the like. Exploring the unique material and spatial qualities of five of Dickinson's later manuscripts, this essay examines the ways these relate to a writerly and readerly performance of the poems scripted therein. Its aim in doing so is to discover how meanings are generated through Dickinson's material poetics. This essay, structured through an intimate engagement with each page, is informed by the following line of inquiry: what meanings emerge through a sustained engagement with the material and spatial properties of the page in relation to its verbal message? How does such an engagement span the distance and difference between the poet-in-process in one spatiotemporal context and the reader in another, critically engaging with the traces of Dickinson's scriptural "voice"? Such questions are indicative of the essay's wider aim, which is to evince a nuanced appreciation of lyricism premised upon an embodied and relational encounter between a discursive "I" and "you."

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Additional Information

ISSN
1096-858X
Print ISSN
1059-6879
Pages
pp. 67-103
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-15
Open Access
No
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