Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them

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9780674737969: Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them
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Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them is a major new edition of Dickinson’s verse intended for the scholar, student, and general reader. It foregrounds the copies of poems that Dickinson retained for herself during her lifetime, in the form she retained them. This is the only edition of Dickinson’s complete poems to distinguish in easy visual form the approximately 1,100 poems she took pains to copy carefully onto folded sheets in fair hand―arguably to preserve them for posterity―from the poems she kept in rougher form or apparently did not retain. It is the first edition to include the alternate words and phrases Dickinson wrote on copies of the poems she retained. Readers can see, and determine for themselves, the extent to which a poem is resolved or fluid.

With its clear and uncluttered pages, the volume recommends itself as a valuable resource for the classroom and to general readers. A Dickinson scholar, Cristanne Miller supplies helpful notes that gloss the poet’s quotations and allusions and the contexts of her writing. Miller’s Introduction describes Dickinson’s practices in copying and circulating poems and summarizes contentious debates within Dickinson scholarship.

Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them brings us closer to the writing practice of a crucially important American poet and provides new ways of thinking about Dickinson, allowing us to see more fully her methods of composing, circulating, and copying than previous editions have allowed. It will be valued by all readers of Dickinson’s poetry.

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About the Author:

Cristanne Miller is a SUNY Distinguished Professor and Edward H. Butler Professor of Literature at the University at Buffalo in New York.

Review:

This book brings us as close as we can get to how [Dickinson] presented her work... Sparing us the task of deciphering the poet’s sometimes challenging handwriting and presenting intriguing variants, this edition demonstrates why generations of writers have been galvanized by Dickinson... This edition brings us that much nearer to what this exceedingly decisive and willful writer wanted. It sweeps away distractions caused by posthumous fame, leaving us with the poems themselves... Closer than previous editions to Dickinson’s wishes, priorities and personality, Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them calls for no redundant plays, films, novels or warbling. What remains is lightning bolts of language akin to the trouvailles of Arthur Rimbaud and other powerful magicians of verse. (Benjamin Ivry Literary Review 2016-06-01)

Reading the volume straight through, it’s a pleasure to discover and re-discover Dickinson’s odd metaphors and strange sounds in poems that oscillate between whimsical riddle and hard-nosed philosophical meditation... Emily Dickinson’s Poems delivers. (Micah Mattix Washington Free Beacon 2016-05-07)

Miller’s edition gives us something like the Collected Poems Dickinson might have published in different circumstances. An invaluable book for Dickinson scholars and general readers alike. (Bonnie Costello, Boston University)

A remarkable new resource in a wonderfully accessible format. This edition offers readers a print version of the manuscript poems Dickinson retained and that, Miller argues, Dickinson preserved for posterity. (Paul Crumbley, Utah State University)

This new edition of Dickinson’s poems attempts nothing less than to shift the center of gravity and value in present-day Dickinson studies back to the fascicles, the poet’s own ‘manuscript books.’ Miller has done the community of general readers as well as scholars a huge service in compiling this edition. (Mary Loeffelholz, Northeastern University)

Miller chooses rightly not to number Dickinson’s poems, as previous editors have done, and allows them instead to name themselves in their first lines. More importantly, though, she does make a convincing case for Dickinson’s having wanted to preserve and organize her works as poems, to decide, for the most part, on their finished forms. (Fiona Green Times Literary Supplement 2016-11-04)

Cristanne Miller’s edition of Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them is surely the best poetry book of all this past year. Who’d have expected such a surprising, new and fruitful way to read the great poet? (Don Share Irish Times 2016-12-03)

[Dickinson’s] ‘fluid’ approach to poetic composition [is] clarified in Cristanne Miller’s painstaking new edition of Dickinson’s poems. (Christopher Benfey New York Review of Books 2017-01-19)

Miller’s approach works well, not only to give readers agency, but also to show Dickinson’s thought process...Miller crafts an edition that artfully accommodates Dickinson’s process of continuously reworking poems. (Meg Schoerke Hudson Review 2016-09-01)

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