It’s a bizarre fact that almost all of Emily’s poems can be sung to the tune of the “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Oh Susanna” or even “Gilligan’s Island.” Those songs are all straight iambic pentameter. Check out this youtube video of how some Emily-loving musicians perform her poems. Israeli singer-songwriter Efrat Ben Zur just performed at the Emily Dickinson museum with her new album of Emily’s poems set to music. It’s really rather wonderful. Check it out.
Archives for October 2012
Emily Dickinson, in addition to being a brilliant poet (and not incidentally the heroine in my newest novel, Nobody’s Secret (Chronicle, March 2013) — she was also an award-winning baker. Check out her coconut cake recipe!
Flavorwire assembled a great list of authors talking about their banned books. I’m always partial to Mark Twain:
Mark Twain to his editor on the Concord Public Library banning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885:
“Apparently, the Concord library has condemned Huck as ‘trash and only suitable for the slums.’ This will sell us another twenty-five thousand copies for sure!”
And to a librarian on the Brooklyn Public Library’s ban on the same book in 1905:
“I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote ‘Tom Sawyer’ & ‘Huck Finn’ for adults exclusively, & it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.”
In honor of Banned Books week, Flavorwire pulled together some great quotes from writers about their books being banned. For the next few blog posts, I’ll share my favorites. Here’s Ray B.
“… it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my ‘Wonderful Ice Cream Suit’ so it shapes ‘Zoot,’ may the belt unravel and the pants fall.”
Next Spring my newest novel, Nobody’s Secret, will be published by the incomparable Chronicle Books. (I’ll have a cover reveal in a few days!) The novel is about Emily Dickinson and its a mystery. She solves a murder of a handsome stranger she calls Mr. Nobody. If you know your Emily, you know the story is a riff on one of her poems. Here’s another way to look at Emily’s work — illustrated poems from David Clemesha (courtesy of Brainpickings.com).