Zombie Emily + My Next Magazine Writing Class

News Flash! It’s been busy at Talking Writing this fall, so I haven’t had much time for blogging. But it’s all for an excellent good cause: TW now has official IRS approval as a 501(3)(c) charitable organization. Yay! Huzzah! Woo-hoo!

Here’s a quick update on how you can donate to TW (please do!), my next session of Magazine Writing at Harvard, and my latest TW piece on Emily Dickinson:

  • Click Donate to make a charitable, tax-deductible contribution to TW. Or you can click the “Donate to TW” button on the homepage of Athena’s Head. It’s easy!
  • Registration for my next session of Magazine Writing this spring is now open at the Harvard Extension School. Sign up today! Click JOUR E-155 for details.
  • Happy Birthday, Emily D! My TW review of Paul Legault’s The Emily Dickinson Reader published on December 10—the Belle of Amherst was born on that auspicious day in 1830. Read the opening of “Emily Dickinson, Zombie” here.

Emily D, c. 1848


Perhaps I’ve left my soul ajar, and no one’s home. Perhaps I’ve dunked myself too thoroughly in The Emily Dickinson Reader by Paul Legault. Regardless, this loopy Canadian-American poet has me believing that the Belle of Amherst is a zombie.

I’m not usually fond of literary mashups that throw together, say, shy girl writers with the walking dead. I love Dickinson’s poetry, and the idea of some hipster guy messing with my Emily did not sit well at first. For instance:

I’m kind of like a little boat in the sea of life.
Who wants to have sex with its brother’s girlfriend.

Preposterous as it seems, however, The Emily Dickinson Reader has invaded my psyche. Beyond the goofiness, Legault’s “English-to-English Translation” of Dickinson’s “1,789 poems in her lifetime” makes clear why creative reinterpretation matters. Suddenly, the idea that literary icons can never be rewritten or remade seems ridiculous to me. We authors and editors are dabbling in artistic alchemy all the time.

Shhh! There’s nothing sacred about the original text.

To continue reading, click “Emily Dickinson, Zombie” and go to Talking Writing.

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