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Pugh, Christina: "A Twig of Evidence: Dickinson-Derived Poems in Perception"

A Twig of Evidence: Dickinson-Derived Poems in Perception

Christina Pugh, University of Illinois at Chicago

In light of the conference’s expressed interest in alternative presentation modes (to supplement scholarly presentations), I will be reading and discussing a set of my own poems that have been inspired by visual elements in Dickinson’s poetry. This subset of poems is part of a larger collection I’m completing, currently titled Perception; in it, I’ve written brief poems that present microscopic views of concrete objects. In many of these poems, I’m trying to work against the post-Language notion that perceptual attention must disallow metaphor – so the poetry is at once minimal (on the page) and at times lavishly metaphoric. In a collection that is interested predominantly in the nature of a peculiarly poetic mode of perception, the subset of Dickinson-inspired poems also constitutes another way of “seeing” – as a cross-section of textual and empirical sight. In the talk, I will read some of these poems in conjunction with the particular Dickinson poems that inspired them, discuss their structural and imagistic relationships with the Dickinson work, and also speak briefly about the place of these “Dickinsonian” poems within the overall structure of the book.