Although a very prolific poet—and arguably America’s greatest—Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) published fewer than a dozen of her eighteen hundred poems. Instead, she created at home small handmade books. When, in her later years, she stopped producing these, she was still writing a great deal, and at her death she left behind many poems, drafts, and letters. It is among the makeshift and fragile manuscripts of Dickinson’s later writings that we find the envelope poems gathered here. These manuscripts on envelopes (recycled by the poet with marked New England thrift) were written with the full powers of her late, most radical period. Intensely alive, these envelope poems are charged with a special poignancy—addressed to no one and everyone at once.
Full-color facsimiles are accompanied by Marta L. Werner and Jen Bervin’s pioneering transcriptions of Dickinson’s handwriting. Their transcriptions allow us to read the texts, while the facsimiles let us see exactly what Dickinson wrote (the variant words, crossings-out, dashes, directional fields, spaces, columns, and overlapping planes).
By Emily Dickinson. Hardcover. 96 pages. Published by New Directions, 2016.