Dickinson at the Morgan

Click on the image above to watch the video. On March 9, 2017, the ModPo team traveled to the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City to meet with Carolyn Vega, curator of the Dickinson exhibit there, to discuss two poems. In-pencil manuscripts of the poems, “Alone and in a Circumstance,” and “The way Hope builds his House,” were on display as Al Filreis, Carolyn Vega, Emily Harnett, and Ali Castleman attempted close readings — while being filmed by Zach Carduner and Chris Martin. In this video, about “Alone and in a Circumstance,” the group tries to understand why Dickinson's manuscript is a collage of sorts — featuring a then-new 3-cent stamp affixed to the middle of the sheet, and two tiny clippings from a current issue of the Atlantic. The clippings extend outward, like spider legs or bull's horns (or something), from the left side of the stamp. The words pencilled around this collaged object either do or don't have to do with it. The spider in the poem, which exascerbates the speaker's reticence, drives her from her own room, but then disappears from the poem even as if occupies the room, evicting the poet. The speaker seems to attend real-estate law school in order to effect a restoration of home. “Georges Sand“ (whose novels Dickinson admired) seems at least in part to have instigated this “circumstance”: it is she, and the title of one of her novels, who extends outward from the stamp, spider or bull. Click HERE for a view of the manuscript and the text of the poem. Click HERE for the ModPo video. Click HERE for Lee Ann Brown's performance of the poem. Click HERE to enroll in ModPo (free).