Monday, October 20, 2008

Emily Dickinson explodes!

From Lavinia Greenlaw's post on Harriet:

"It seems to me that in several ways she made the most she could of the space available, and that one of the things she depended on from space was containment. If you follow Don Share’s link to Dickinson’s snood, you can see just above it a sampler she sewed as a child. With each line, she runs out of room, bringing to mind something she said in a letter to Higginson: ‘When I try to organise, my little force explodes.’ She has to squeeze words in above and to the side, like the variants in her manuscripts. She neither measured the space nor unstitched and corrected her work (and as the Houghton curator, Betty Falsey, pointed out to me, no one made her: perhaps her first reason not to leave home).

Dickinson wrote on whatever came to hand and left her poems in roughly sewn bundles. It was in her town, however, that I first encountered the notebook as fetish object. Does anyone really believe that if they write on pages containing gold thread or pressed leaves, their words will emerge all golden and pressed? You need to be able to make a mess of a page and how can you do that when the page is so pretty and so expensive? And why bother with notebooks when all you really need to do is lock your door, pour a glass of sherry, part your hair dead centre and climb into a white dress? And a snood. I was forgetting the snood."

P.S. Having tried E.D.'s snood, you might enjoy Marianne Moore's tricorn.

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