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Emily Dickinson out and about in Amherst

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 10:49 am

Known for her reclusive habits in life, poet Emily Dickinson will be stepping out with several stops around Amherst County during the coming months.

The Big Read: Emily Dickinson in Amherst will host Dickinson-related events this month through June 2014.

The series is presented by Amherst Glebe Arts Response and is provided through an $8,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Most events of The Big Read are free and are open to the public. Emily Dickinson books also will be distributed throughout the county.

On Sept. 24, the program’s kick-off event will be held at the Amherst County Public Library in Amherst.

At that event, Dickinson’s poetry will be discussed, and the Amherst County High School show choir, the Amherechos, will sing a song specially composed for the event.

At the Clifford Ruritan Center this month and October, Dickinson’s poems will hang on the branches of a “Poet-Tree.”

A Dickinson poem, “The Poets light but Lamp,” recently was delivered to recipients of the Meals On Wheels program.

In the following months, additional Dickinson poems will be wrapped as scrolls and delivered to meal recipients, said Lynn Kable, president of Amherst Glebe Arts Response.

Sally Southall, a Richmond-area teacher and actress who has performed for Endstation Theatre at Sweet Briar College, will portray Dickinson in a play, “The Belle of Amherst,” in November.

Southall also will be dressed as Dickinson at the James River State Park Fall Harvest Festival in Gladstone, where she will hand out Dickinson poems.

In June 2014, a program designed for children will be held at the Madison Heights branch of the Amherst County Public Library.

Kable said she wanted The Big Read: Emily Dickinson in Amherst to be open to all age-groups, and she has geared events for students as well as senior citizens.

Despite her current notoriety, Dickinson experienced no fame during her lifetime.

Born in Amherst, Mass., in 1830, Dickinson’s poetry utilized shortened stanzas and descriptive topics of everyday life, such as nature and religion.

Dickinson never married and in the later years of her life, rarely left her family’s property.

Although Dickinson wrote hundreds of poems, only a few were published while she was living.

For more information about The Big Read events, visit


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