I attended the 188th Birthday Tribute to Emily Dickinson at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, on December 10.
At the tribute, Jan Bervin, one of the editors of The Gorgeous Nothings, spoke on the work of Jay Layde in documenting the life and work of Emily Dickinson. I wrote about Ms. Bervin's presentation in "The F-Word, Part 1" HERE.
After Bervin spoke, Martha Nell Smith, the president of the Emily Dickinson International Society, talked on the letters between and relationship of Emily Dickinson and Susan Hutchinson Dickinson, Austin Dickinson's wife. I wrote about Ms. Smith's presentation in "The F-Word, Part 2" HERE.
In both Parts 1 and 2 I mentioned that at the event, Ms. Smith used the F-word (hence, the title for my posts).
No, no, no! NOT THAT F-WORD!
Okay. Here's what happened.
After Bervin and Smith spoke, there was a very short panel discussion -- along with Madeleine Olnek, the director of the new film Wild Nights with Emily -- with questions from the audience.
Following the Q&A, everyone funneled into the "Great Hall" for a treat, a taste of wine and a piece of Emily Dickinson's Black Cake made by a local baker.
Pictured at the right: A splash of some white wine (hey, it was free, so I can't complain) and a piece of Emily Dickinson's Black Cake.
After the cake, I stopped by the library's small gift shop where I picked up a copy of Open Me Carefully, a volume of letters between Emily Dickinson and Susan Dickinson edited by Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith.
Since I already own a copy of The Gorgeous Nothings, edited by Jane Bervin, Marta Werne, and Susan Howe, I did not purchase another one. Instead, I explained to Ms. Bervin that my copy of her book was at home, and I asked her to sign my program for the evening's event.
Pictured below left: The Folger's program for the Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute -- which included a copy of Dickinson's poem "Wild Nights -- Wild Nights" in the poet's handwriting. Below center: Bervin's signature on my program. Below right: Smith's book, Open Me Carefully.
Pictured at the right: Smith signed her book by quoting a line from her presentation (with a line from a letter written by Susan Hutchinson Dickinson): "For James -- Poetry is Sermon -- Hope -- Solace -- Life -- Martha Nell Smith."
When Ms. Smith handed me the signed copy of her book, she asked something like, "Have we met before?"
I reminded her that we had, indeed, met two years ago when I had attended the EDIS annual conference in Amherst and also last year when I had attended the 187th Birthday Tribute at the Folger.
Then I added, "and I help to maintain a site about Emily Dickinson's third cousin, Emmett Lee Dickinson."
"That's you," laughed Smith with a broadening smile on her face. "You're fantastic!"
Hmm. Maybe it was, "You're fabulous" I can't remember. But it was one of those two F-words -- either "fantastic" or "fabulous."
Aw shucks -- I'm sure I was blushing.
I was just thankful she didn't call for security to have me removed from the premises. Poetry, after all, is a serious business. Yes, I take my humor seriously, but I always hope that people don't think my parodies and funny-business aren't disdainful about third cousin Emily. On the contrary. We, too, at the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum are in awe of Emily's work.