Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Thing with Feathers: Hopeful Inspiration for OctPoWriMo from Emily Dickinson

Mixed Media: Emily Dickinson portrait with book page and leaf - 2012, Julie Jordan Scott
Mixed Media: Emily Dickinson portrait with book page and leaf - 2012, Julie Jordan Scott
As we get closer to the beginning of OctPoWriMo, you may consider ways to stay inspired. Some of my greatest inspiration comes from the poets who have written before me, especially the women. 

I call them "Literary Grannies" because they have a feminine legacy that isn't often touted. 

I make it a mission to elevate the stature of all women writers and poets. Along the way, I fall in love with the poems and the women.

The more I get to know Emily Dickinson, the more I love her. I have been an admirer for quite a few years now, but my word-love has flourished since I visited her home in Amherst Massachusetts. Not once, not twice, but three times so far and I think another trip there is long overdue. 

It isn’t as if travel to Western Massachusetts is convenient: I live in Bakersfield, California. Visiting her home is like visiting Mecca.

 Not only do I visit her home, I take in the stomping grounds of other literary figures.

My visit, though, does not begin until I have paid due homage to Emily.

So many people think of her as an odd recluse who had agoraphobia among other mental illnesses. Perhaps she did fight some disease but we don’t know for certain. There are so many books of research about her poems, I am sure we could find a researcher or several right now who would argue for all sorts of illnesses and quirks.

What I feel most strongly about is this: Emily Dickinson was a one of a kind. She lived with great passion, continually learning via the news of the day from both her family and newspapers and magazines. She enjoyed baking for the neighborhood children – she would lower Ginger cookies in a basket to them as they waited below her bedroom window. She was a botanist – spending hours in
"The Thing with Feathers" inspired by Emily Dickinson's poetry. Mixed Media, Julie Jordan Scott, 2013
"The Thing with Feathers" inspired by Emily Dickinson's poetry. Mixed Media, Julie Jordan Scott, 2013
the garden drawing flora and communing with the trees.

 Yes, she sought refuge in solitude.

She spoke to people behind a curtain.

She also corresponded with many and grew friendships via her entertaining letters.

What impresses me most about her is how the mystery surrounding her continues to invite inquiry AND the more I know of her the more I want to know. The more I know of her the more I want to create in her honor. The more I know the more I want to share with others.

I created a mixed media work of art called “The Thing with Feathers” based on this stanza of hers, one of her famous oft quoted ones:
"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

She inspires me as poet, a visual artist and as a human being.

It doesn't get much better than that.

What literary granny (or any other poet) inspires you to write? If you don't know of one yet, I urge you to begin reading more poetry. We can support poets (and poetry collections) by purchasing their books. My own skill as a poet increase multi-fold when I studied poets with a lasting legacy.

Honor your poetry by honoring wise sage poets.

-- Julie Jordan Scott

* This entry is a revised blog entry from the Julie Unplugged Blog.
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Time is going by quickly, are you ready for this poetry challenge, will you be sharing your poetry on your blog? Make sure you if you are on Twitter that you share your poem posts with the hashtag #OctPoWriMo so that other participants can find you. You can also share and chat with us on Facebook in our Writing Poetry Group.

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