Emily Dickinson & The Threads of Influence

Barry Wood

The two great US poets of the nineteenth century: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, have curiously distinct histories both in terms of their achievement and their influence.  Whitman made an almost immediate impact on American poetry with the publication of THE LEAVES OF GRASS in 1855, was revered as the Good Gray Poet by the time he died in 1892 and acquired a world reputation in the twentieth century. Emily Dickinson, on the other hand, was virtually unknown in her own lifetime and her impact on twentieth poetry is much more difficult to determine.

The purpose of this course will be to assess her achievement as a poet and to trace threads of influence, primarily on American women poets in the twentieth century.  Does she have followers?  In terms of language, style and form, perhaps not; but, for insight and attitude, she represents a very American resonance and individuality. Her influence is pervasive rather than specific, a matter not of linguistic, formal or even thematic debt but rather of outlook and perspective. Apart from Dickinson, we will be considering in detail poems by some of the following: Marianne Moore, Louise Bogan, Stevie Smith, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery and Sylvia Plath.

Recommended Reading:

Selected poems will be distributed during the course.  For reference, see also: Cora Kaplan SALT AND BITTER AND GOOD (1975); and Adrienne Rich’s essay “Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson” in ON LIES SECRETS AND SILENCE (1975)

Day:        Thursday                Time:  10.30am-12.30

Date: 8 weeks, 1st February to 22 March 2018

Venue:
St.Peter’s House
University Precinct
Oxford Road
Manchester  M13 9GH

Price Concessions Minimum No. Maximum No.
£85 8 14

Please send your booking form with an accompanying cheque to:
Barry Wood, 12 St. Brannock’s Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 0UP