|Emily Dickinson's Garden
The Poetry of Flowers
April 30th-June 13th, 2010
Co-presented with the Poetry Society of America
The New York Botanical Garden
You only have one more week to get out to the Bronx to see this wondrous poetry garden which celebrates one of America's most enduring poetic voices: Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst to parents who were ardent about plants. The family property was filled with vegetables, trees, hedges and especially flowers. Her mother (also named Emily) was famous around Amherst for growing figs; her father Edward had a gentleman's orchard and he built a conservatory — a garden off the dining-room. Emily's older brother Austin planted a grove of pines and a younger sister Lavinia, known as “Vinnie,” was a gardening enthusiast and accomplice
This thoughtfully mounted exhibition features a re-creation of Dickinson's garden based on the extensive reading of the poet's poems and letters. On display are the flowers and plants that inspired so much of her poetry. Interspersed along the garden walk are boards with relevant poems.
Emily Dickinson died on May 15, 1886, probably of a stroke. She was buried in a white coffin with heliotrope in her hands and lady's slippers at her throat. According to her wish, servants carried her through fields of buttercups to a grave heaped with flowers.
A few days later her sister Lavinia would discover over 1800 unpublished poems in a cedar chest in Emily's bedroom.
Alice Quinn, the high priestess of American poetry, has organized a series of events so that visitors may learn more about Dickinson's life, her poetry and her garden. This past Saturday, Ms. Quinn hosted a program that featured writers Christopher Benfey and Jerome Charyn. Mr. Benfey, a Dickinson scholar, teaches at Mount Holyoke; Mr. Charyn's most recent novel, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, is a fictionalized account of the poet's life.
On Saturday afternoon, June 12th, Quinn will host two final programs — one with Susan Howe, (author of My Emily Dickinson) and Stephen Stephanchev (former Queens Poet Laureate) at 3 o'clock, and the other with writers Joyce Carol Oates and Lyndall Gordon at 5. Oates has edited a book published by Ecco for their Essential Poets Series: Essential Dickinson; Gordon is the author of a new book: Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds.
|This small tent was set up just outside the entrance to the Emily Dickinson garden exhibition for the Jerome Charyn/Christopher Benfey event, hosted by Alice Quinn.|
|Christopher Benfey teaches a course at Mount Holyoke called Emily Dickinson at Mount Holyoke, a seminar that zeroes in on the one year Emily Dickinson spent at the college from 1847-1848. His students pursue independent research in the school’s archives, learn about the various policies of 19th-century education for women, and think about contrasts between their own first year at Mount Holyoke and Emily Dickinson’s.|
|Alice Quinn can recite over 150 of Emily Dickinson's poems from memory. Ms. Quinn is the Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America.|
|Christopher Benfey and Jerome Charyn at The Bronx Botanical Gardens on Saturday, June 5th, 2010, where they spoke about Emily Dickinson.|
|Writer Jay Neugeboren and his wife, psychotherapist, Kathleen Reilly.||Rebecca Dinerstein, 22-year-old poet, has just finished a year abroad on a fellowship from Yale. A protegé of Louise Glück's, Ms. Dinerstein has recently finished her first novel. She also learned to speak Norwegian during her travels and is looking for a job in Manhattan where she can put her newly-acquired language to good use.|
|Lenore Riegel, a television producer and a lawyer with the Bloom firm. Ms. Riegel is Mr. Charyn's lady friend (for lack of a better word).||Karen Kennerly, former executive director of PEN International, now a real estate agent with Halstead.|
|Entrance to the Emily Dickinson garden exhibition.|
|Over the fence –
Strawberries – grow –
Over the fence –
I could climb – if I tried, I know –
Berries are nice!
But – if I stained my Apron –
God would certainly scold!
Oh, dear, – I guess if He were a Boy –
He'd – climb – if He could!
|Where Ships of Purple – gently toss –
On Seas of Daffodil –
Fantastic Sailors – mingle –
And then – the Wharf is still!
|In Dickinson's day, hollyhock signified ambition.|
|Morning – is the place for Dew –
Corn – is made at Noon –
After dinner light – for flowers –
Dukes – for Setting Sun
|Christopher Benfey and Alice Quinn in front of the recreated facade of the poet's home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Emily Dickinson lived here for 56 years rarely leaving except to attend school and in later years, to walk with her dog Carlo to the nearby village. Carlo has been described as "a very large, long-haired, salivating, muddy-pawed companion."||Christopher Benfey is seated in a facsimile of Emily Dickinson's bedroom where she wrote. On the wall behind him: Emily's father, top left; Martha age 6, top right; her sister Lavinia, bottom left; and nephew Edward, bottom right.|
|A facsimile of Emily's bed with pillows and headboard.|
|Longiflorum-Asiatic hybrid lily, Lilium.|
|Digitalis lutea (straw foxglove), Scrophulariaceae. Europe & northwestern Africa.
|Fuschia, 'Display,' Onagraceae.|
|Emily Dickinson's nickname was "Daisy."
So has a Daisy vanished
From the fields today –
So tiptoed many a slipper
To Paradise away –
Oozed so in crimson bubbles
Day's departing tide –
Blooming – tripping – flowing –
Are ye then with God?
|Margaret Csala, Director of the Shop in the Garden, is standing in front of a table of dedicated Dickinson merchandise.|
|Emily Dickinson's Herbarium, $138.50.||Christopher Benfey's A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade (Hardcover).|
|The glass hydrangea and rose plates in the gift shop, $58.|
|These adorable birds made of twigs and dried leaves are only $9. I bought two of them.|
|Emily Dickinson's garden was her church.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton-sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to heaven, at last –
I'm going, all along.
|This photojournal is dedicated, with much love, to my friend Harriet Huber, who has always loved flowers and friends. Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz; all rights reserved.|