Because I can’t get it all from staring at her collected poems and trying to write my own [crappily] in the same form, I really need to look at her letters because they are extraordinary – just as intense, condensed, experimental, elliptical, and fascinating as her poems.
Okay then…so I need a general bio for context, after which I’m planning to focus on two of her most ambiguous, interesting, and charged correspondences. The first are to her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Dickinson. The first are interesting because there’s an open question about what sort of relationship the two had. They were both writers, and Susan knew more than anyone about Dickinson’s poetry, having received 250+ poems over their 30+-year correspondence. For Dickinson, the relationship was at once intimate, cherished, world-opening, and contentious.
The second are three fragmentary texts known as the Master letters – i.e., after the addressee. They are very…charged. What the hell are those things – diary entries, poetry, draft letters, fair copies of sent letters, literary experiments? And the addressee – a real person, different real people, an imaginary person, different imaginary people, a personification, a deity, an abstraction, and/or several of the above? Here’s an overview of the Master letters, which, of course, assumes that they are all about SEX!!!! D: D: D:
I’m going to go with my favorite answer to questions like, “Are you x, y, or z?”:
Pro tip: Depending on how sarcastic and/or generally devious the people in your head are, do not use this formulation when asking them questions because you’ll only get one answer instead of the three you expected. And, even if that single answer is the most accurate, it’s neither explicit, nor elaborate, nor ultimately satisfying.
“Right then. So is there any way at all of you answering my questions in a more useful fashion?”
“My answers are plenty useful. It’s just your perspective that’s unhelpful.”
“I’m very helpful. It ain’t my fault if you’re not ready to consider the truth of what I say.”
“So, in other words, you’re quoting the Gospel according to Mick: ‘Thou canst not always get what thou wantest, but, if thou tryest sometimes, thou just might find, thou gettest what thou needest?’“
“Well, the archaic conjugation kinda kills the meter, but the sentiment’s correct.”