Scraps of Genius

I have two recent books that I wish I could pass around to you all: The Gorgeous Nothings and Envelope Poems.  These volumes reproduce in facsimile the bits of Dickinson’s composition that were found on recipes, small pieces of paper, the insides and backs of envelopes, etc.  I will post a few images here for your enjoyment.

8 Replies to “Scraps of Genius”

  1. This looks really cool. I have seen notebooks like that before and I have always thought they were rather interesting since it copies the author’s writing style, notes, and even what the pages look like. There’s just something about them that make me smile, not sure if it’s due to them also having doubts about their works or that it makes their works much more personal. Either way, I definitely will check it out.

  2. Do you think she wrote on these odd pieces because she felt like she just needed to get down what she had in her mind as quickly as possible or just because she didn’t care about what she wrote on? Silly side note- my husband writes notes all over random envelopes and pieces of paper. Honestly, I think he does this because of both of the previously mentioned reasons.

  3. Probably both. Her iconic white dress (which I was told should be seen in its style as equivalent to jeans, very much a day dress) had one pocket where she was known to keep bits of paper to jot things down during the day as she did her work (she was the family’s primary baker and also helped care for her mother, though Vinnie really ran the house). And of course paper wasn’t purchased in bulk the same way. She did make “fair copies” of many poems on nice paper later. I also like the idea that writing was so much in the rhythm of her day that she wrote at all times, on everything, which she wanted or needed to.

  4. This is so cool. Seeing that Dickinson wrote these words where she could makes me feel like less of a weirdo for having a million random pieces of paper covered in frantic midnight scribblings all over my office and bedroom nightstand. (It’s almost as if I don’t have 10+ blank composition books specifically for my ideas.)

    I think seeing this really humanizes Dickinson for me, even more so than reading her poems from the archive.

  5. I so loved seeing the bits of paper. I wonder how many of the “bits” ended up in her finished poetry. My oldest son is a writer and I remember, before he bought a moleskin with removable notebooks, he would see something and write on his arms. (He kept the tiniest pen in his wallet). On a good day, his entire arm was covered.

  6. Rhonda, I love that fact.

    Many of these bits made it into what we now read as the poems!

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