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Envelope Poems

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Another gorgeous copublication with the Christine Burgin Gallery, Emily Dickinson's  Envelope Poems  is a compact clothbound gift book, a full-color selection from The Gorgeous Nothings.  Although a very prolific poet―and arguably America’s greatest―Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) published fewer than a dozen of her eighteen hundred poems. Instead, she created at home small handmade books. When, in her later years, she stopped producing these, she was still writing a great deal, and at her death she left behind many poems, drafts, and letters. It is among the makeshift and fragile manuscripts of Dickinson’s later writings that we find the envelope poems gathered here. These manuscripts on envelopes (recycled by the poet with marked New England thrift) were written with the full powers of her late, most radical period. Intensely alive, these envelope poems are charged with a special poignancy―addressed to no one and everyone at once.

Full-color facsimiles are accompanied by Marta L. Werner and Jen Bervin’s pioneering transcriptions of Dickinson’s handwriting. Their transcriptions allow us to read the texts, while the facsimiles let us see exactly what Dickinson wrote (the variant words, crossings-out, dashes, directional fields, spaces, columns, and overlapping planes).

96 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2016

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About the author

Emily Dickinson

1,068 books5,295 followers
Emily Dickinson was an American poet who, despite the fact that less than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime, is widely considered one of the most original and influential poets of the 19th century.

Dickinson was born to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.

Although Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime.The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson's writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Emily's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content.

A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite unfavorable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, critics now consider Dickinson to be a major American poet.

For more information, please see http://www.answers.com/topic/emily-di...

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5 stars
942 (44%)
4 stars
769 (36%)
3 stars
308 (14%)
2 stars
67 (3%)
1 star
30 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 333 reviews
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
February 20, 2017
As an object, this book is absolutely gorgeous. The cover is beautiful, the pages feel luxurious, the photographs feel so special, and it's all put together with incredible care.

The content feels like lucky snooping. Like maybe these were just scrap ideas, things Emily Dickinson didn't care for people to see (some of them are even scratched out), and thoughts she wanted to write but wouldn't fit in anywhere else (on one envelope it simple says "there are those who are shallow intentionally and only profound by accident").

It felt like a four star read to me simply because many of the ideas didn't feel finished or realized. Many of the poems had a nice line, but overall left me confused. I did find some gems and dogeared some pages I'll go back to in the future, but I read through most of these thinking "I have no clue what' going on."
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books769 followers
November 19, 2019
In the 70s when I first learned of Emily Dickinson in my high school American Lit class, a picture of her emerged that is now being superseded, thanks to archivists, researchers and biographers. For too many years I’ve had an image of Emily as a perennial girl, never a woman, with genius of course but not emotions she showed in real life, only displaying them on the page; an image where she submissively sits behind her cross-barred bedroom window when she is not writing, imprisoned almost, perhaps by her father, occasionally looking out and ignoring the gawkers on the lawn below. That is not the Emily Dickinson I know now. And of course those poems we read in high school had been edited, for example, to change her capitalization and punctuation, removing those lovely dashes: Reading her unedited poems was the first revelation.

On a recent visit to Amherst to visit her home/museum (a place I could’ve stayed in all day), I bought this little volume in the gift shop, as I’d never heard of the so-called ‘envelope poems’, another revelation, of a new form she used near the end of her life. This small selection is taken from the complete volume of her ‘envelope poems,’ The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems -- “gorgeous nothings” is a phrase from one of the poems, included in this book too.

The book is an art object, with transcriptions of her handwriting facing facsimiles of the scraps of envelopes she wrote upon, some of which you can see through to the other side. But, of course, it is her words that are foremost, the shortest of these (of less characters than one can use on a Twitter post) being my favorites, though a slightly longer one (none are long) near the end was intriguing, as it was written on three small sections of a flattened-out envelope and can be read at least two different ways depending on how it is turned. I may just have to get the complete collection now.

A few photos from my day in Amherst: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3VyiGN
Profile Image for Ross.
169 reviews10 followers
July 27, 2022
As there are
Apartments in our
own Minds that -
we never enter without Apology -
we should respect
the seals of
others -

I'm glad the editors of this volume didn't heed this particularly aphoristic poem. Dickinson in fragmentary form is cryptic, capturing a quality that many future poets would strive for (e.g., Anne Carson). Also interesting is the incredible glimpse into a master poet's creative process—alternative words, phrases crossed out, poems re-written on facing pages. The facsimiles are clear and the transcriptions true.
Profile Image for Celeste   Corrêa.
278 reviews142 followers
March 29, 2021
Emily Dickinson cresceu num ambiente puritano e passou quase toda a vida confinada a um quarto onde redigiu cerca de 1750 poemas.

Este é o meu primeiro livro da autora, uma lindíssima edição da SAGUÃO 11, design e composição original adaptada por Rui Miguel Ribeiro e tradução a cargo de Mariana Pinto dos Santos e Rui Pires Cabral.
É uma edição bilingue que reúne uma amostra selecionada a partir da recolha integral dos «poemas envelope», que alguns exegetas designam como «refugo»
Não sou uma leitora de poesia, ou melhor, sou leitora de poemas escritos em Língua Portuguesa, brasileiros e portugueses, pelo que atrever-me em Emily Dickinson foi navegar por mares nunca de antes navegados.

Uma poesia fragmentada escrita em envelopes já utilizados que acredito seja uma inspiração de momento, um registo do fugaz sem emenda e hesitante entre uma palavra ou outra.

Nesta fugaz Existência
Que dura apenas/somente uma hora
Quanto – quão
Pouco –

In this short Life
That only/merely lasts an hour
How much – how
Little – is
Within our power

Pela qual
Cesso de
Viver –

For wich
I cease to live
Profile Image for Cooper Renner.
Author 21 books42 followers
September 26, 2016
Pocket-sized selection from the magisterial complete collection The Gorgeous Nothings. Both books are superb and put virtually all new books of poetry to shame.
Profile Image for Luca Suede.
61 reviews40 followers
January 31, 2022

A little book that is a little boring but so so beautiful and a very quick read. I have never seen a printing like this, with one page being an image of Dickinson’s handwritten scraps of paper and immediately next to it a minimal and more legible rendering of the poem in the same layout as the original envelope. As someone who has been struggling with productivity recently I will say: Realizing how prolific Dickinson was in her life makes me wonder if she would have written 12,000 poems on little scraps of paper if she’s had been alive at the same time as HBO Max.
Profile Image for jadakinz.
145 reviews6 followers
December 21, 2021
what the heck!!!!!!!!!!!! "Look back / on Time / with kindly / Eyes -"
whatever you say, Ms. Dickinson!!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Steven.
477 reviews1,724 followers
November 5, 2022
But are not
all Facts Dreams
as soon as
we put
them behind
us -
Yesterday, I visited my favorite bookstore after a very long time. I came across this beautiful little edition of Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems, which I couldn't leave behind. The book is a work of art in itself, with gorgeous facsimiles of Dickinson's writings scrambled on bits of envelope (hence the title). While the title promises Poems, this somewhat oversells the material: many of the writings are probably better characterized as notes, musings, thoughts, aphorisms, and so on. In fact, these writings are also known within Dickinson scholarship as 'scraps'. The truth seems to lie somewhere in between. Few, if any, of the writings are poems in a formal, fully-formed sense. Which is fine—there is enough, in the end, to justify the material's interest, even if I was slightly disappointed that there wasn't more actual writing (a number of pages simply contain pictures of bits of envelope addressed to or by Dickinson). The good bits are really good, though.
"One note from
One bird
Is better than
A million words."
Profile Image for Paula  Abreu Silva.
240 reviews55 followers
June 13, 2021
"O mais belo Lar que
foi construído numa Hora
Por certos Conhecidos meus
Uma aranha e uma Flor -
Um presbitério de renda e
de Seda - Brilho -Sol"


"Assim como há
Quartos na nossa
Mente onde -
nunca entramos
sem pedir Desculpa -
Devemos também respeitar
o recato dos
outros -"
Profile Image for lissa.
243 reviews92 followers
December 3, 2021
There is always something incredible to say about Emily Dickson’s poetry. In this novel, the manuscripts collected - or rather her notes - are a look into a different Emily.

It’s exciting to see what she jotted down on miscellaneous envelopes. Very different from her original style. Which I really liked. Still very much her signature but somewhat more mature and almost more sure of herself. You get an insight to her wanderings. Loved this book so much!
Profile Image for April.
56 reviews3 followers
September 30, 2021
I absolutely loved this. I see reviews that knocked a star off because some poems felt “unfinished” or “confusing” and whilst I agree I also felt as if that’s why I, personally, loved it. As a historian it’s always wonderful to see anything and everything from simple things to simple thoughts, however careless they may seem to us, or unimportant and forgettable to the contemporary maker. I almost felt a bit voyeuristic reading these poems, like I walked into a room and found these scraps on someone’s desk.
There are some really standout poems to me in this but the sentence that hit me hardest was “I have no life but this to lead”, as if Emily from centuries away knows what I’m going through, what I’m thinking…. Maybe humans do have universal truths after all….

Loved this publication, the juxtaposition of the original letters and how they looked was marvellous and interesting especially as a historian and (aspiring) palaeographer, though I imagine even non-historians find it fascinating.

Lovely read, will read again
Profile Image for Eleanor.
227 reviews29 followers
February 4, 2017
I literally had no idea what she was talking about... Her hand writing is hard to read and I think that some mistakes were made when translating. Many of these poems were also incomplete and I believe she left them unpublished for a reason.

There were one or two poems I really liked but other than that this was very confusing... perhaps I was reading them wrong, but I read them in the way I saw most logical and they did not make sense at all.
Profile Image for Kaeli Wood.
91 reviews16 followers
June 28, 2020
I think I might be not smart enough for EmDick because half the time I’m like hmm what
Profile Image for V. Míchkina.
367 reviews60 followers
October 26, 2021
"Nesta fugaz Existência
que dura apenas uma hora
Quanto - quão
pouco - podemos"

Emily Dickinson


Este livro tem uma delicadeza que é raro encontrar.
Talvez sejam as imagens dos envelopes (a cor, a sugestão da textura, do toque - do objecto real que pode ser tocado); talvez sejam os poemas fragmentados, as palavras rasuradas (o mundo de bastidores, a vida privada, o processo de criação); ou talvez seja a própria letra da autora que carrega o peso da presença: eu estive aqui, eu escrevi isto... ("This is my letter to the world")... e é possível que a combinação de todos estes elementos sustente a delicadeza que encontro neste maravilhoso livro.
O livro foi reeditado recentemente, em Julho de 2021, e eu tive o privilégio de conseguir uma cópia na Feira do Livro de Lisboa.
Profile Image for William.
10 reviews5 followers
March 10, 2021
This little book contains fragments of poems and prose written by Emily Dickinson on pieces of envelopes and scraps of old-paper. The poems and the book itself are short. It does feel almost invasive, reading the passing thoughts and ideas of Emily Dickinson she never likely envisioned being published in a book for me to read.

This is definitely a book I will pick up from my shelf and flick through on a bored rainy Sunday.
It would make an excellent gift for someone who is into, or wants to get into poetry. The presentation of the book is beautifully simple and will make a fine addition to my collection.
Profile Image for Morgan.
92 reviews8 followers
January 24, 2022
“As there are apartment in our own minds that we never enter without apology — we should respect the seals of others.”

Profile Image for Fábio de Carvalho.
195 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2022
C'était un beau cadeau de ma belle Véro, qui sait que je tripe pas poésie en général, mais qui connait mon amour pour Emily Dickinson que j'ai découverte à travers l'émission Dickinson avec Hailee Steinfeld*. On a d'ailleurs sur notre conversation Messenger un emoji qui s'active quand on écrit les mots "Sentences of Plush", tirés du poème All the letters I can write, un de mes préférés.

D'entrée de jeu, ce sont pas les meilleurs poèmes d'Emily Dickinson (même s'il y a quand même des gros standouts), mais c'est tellement beau et intéressant de voir les scans colorés des manuscrits, écrits sur des lettres repliées pour en faire leur propre enveloppe, avec les hachures qu'impliquent un brouillon et les mots placés entre les lignes pour proposer des alternatives à certains vers des poèmes. Ça rendait le tout très personnel.


* Véro m'a d'ailleurs dit quand on écoutait l'émission qu'Hailee Steinfeld était physiquement la version féminine de moi, puis je suis d'accord et ça me plait beaucoup. Elle m'a par contre aussi dit quelques mois plus tard qu'elle trouvait qu'Hailee Steinfeld avait l'air niaiseuse. It was the longest con :'(
Profile Image for ιφιγένεια παπούλη.
125 reviews12 followers
August 24, 2021
ποιήματα πάνω σε φακέλους αλληλογραφίας, σε γραμματόσημα και ονόματα αποστολέων. ένα όμορφο βιβλίο που αναρωτιέται (κι αυτό) τι σχέση έχει η γραφή με τα υλικά της, τα χαρτιά, τα μολύβια, τις άτακτες γραμμές.

*Look back
on Time
with kindly
Eyes -

He doubtless
did his best -
Profile Image for kara.
62 reviews5 followers
January 1, 2021
but are not all facts dreams as soon as we put them behind us
Profile Image for Kyo.
396 reviews2 followers
September 25, 2020
An absolutely stunning way of reading Dickinson's poetry! Every page has a (smaller) facismile copy of the original letters with a reconstruction on the opposite page (very useful, especially at the beginning, since Dickinson's hand writing is very distinct but difficult to read at first). It's very interesting to see how Dickinson wrote these (snippets of) poems, so if you like Dickinson I'd definitely recommend this (but maybe not as the first thing you ever read of her; they are not really 'complete' poems, so perhaps then first a collection or at least a couple of them (they're so short, it's very quickly done (and very good))!
Profile Image for Maria J.
2 reviews
January 4, 2023
a super quick read, literally took me 25 minutes to finish. It's so cool to see the poems in her own handwriting on scraps of random envelopes. but a lot of them don't make a lot of sense and are just random ideas stringed together. my rating literally comes from the aesthetic appeal of the book, I am in fact judging a book by its cover.
Profile Image for chey.
78 reviews
December 13, 2020
this book is so beautiful i just want to display it forever. tiny gems of dickinson quite literally written on envelopes.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 333 reviews

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