Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute: Sandra Gilbert (2017)

This article is about a single event. For other uses, see the Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute (disambiguation).

The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series, co-sponsored with the Poetry Society of America, presented the Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute reading on December 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm in the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre. With poems many can recite, such as “Because I could not stop for Death,” Emily Dickinson’s work is rich with poetic contemplation about the end of life. For this annual tribute evening, the renowned poet, author, and feminist literary critic Sandra Gilbert explored this contemplation of death and grief, reading from Dickinson’s poetry and her own.

At the reception following the reading, Emily Dickinson’s black cake was provided by The Suga Chef.

Sandra Gilbert

Sandra Gilbert.

Sandra Gilbert Gilbert has published numerous collections of poetry, including the Patterson Prize winning Ghost Volcano and Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems 1969–1999, winner of an American Book Award. Recent collections include Belongings and Aftermath: Poems. In addition to numerous anthologies, other work includes Death’s Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve, a cultural and literary history of grief, as well as The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, co-written with Susan Gubar and considered one of the most influential works of contemporary scholarship.

Gilbert has read for the O.B. Hardison Poetry series previously, on March 23, 1999.

Reviews and excerpts

From "Grief: A History"

When you spun away in the whirlwind

my grief followed you

a whimpering spaniel

you were gone your absence

was absolute & my grief

sat on my kitchen table

a vase of bloody roses

my grief sprang from my breastbone

a young birch swaying & scabrous

my grief was a dull pot

at the back of the stove

my grief lashed the windows

a hurricane with your face

my grief sulked & silenced itself

a fog over the harbor

my grief in tatters

my grief in gusts

my grief skulking around the house

ready to kill . . .

Excerpt from "Grief: A History" from Aftermath: Poems by Sandra Gilbert © 2011 by Sandra M. Gilbert, published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Used with permission.