Emily Dickinson, one of the most important figures in American poetry, is the next topic featured by the UMF New Commons Project. A prolific poet during the 1800s, Dickinson was not publicly recognized during her lifetime. Though heavily influenced by the poets of seventeenth century England and her Puritanical upbringing, she challenged the definitions of poetry and the poet’s work and experimented with expression to free it from conventional restraints.

All events are free and open to the public. According to UMF Covid protocol, masks are required in all campus indoor spaces. Attendees are asked to sign in at all events for contact tracing.

Faculty Talk: “Making Nothing Happen: Emily Dickinson’s Poetic Magic”

March 2, 4 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center 

Professor Kristen Case will discuss Dickinson’s striking ability to pull readers into her poetry through her use of elision, omission and negative space. Looking closely, we will find in the blanks, dashes, and silences of her poems the ghostly presence of our own unspeakable experiences.

Emily Dickinson Symposium

March 9, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center 

Join us for a day-long exploration and celebration of the poetry of Emily Dickinson.


Events begin at 10 a.m. with a student panel featuring Natalka Harris, from Aspinwall, Penn.; and Sylvie Haslam, from Farmington.

José Alvergue Submitted photo

From 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. the keynote conversation on the importance of Emily Dickinson today draws together the professorial and poetic perspectives of José Alvergue, associate professor of contemporary literature and transnationalism at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Benjamin Friedlander, professor of English at the University of Maine; and Michelle Neely, associate professor of English at Connecticut College.

Michelle Neely Submitted photo

Benjamin Friedlander Submitted photo

At 2:30 p.m. we will host a roundtable on select Dickinson poems, with the discussion led by faculty and invited guests: Michelle Neely, Ben Freidlander, José Alvergue, Kristen Case, Wes McNair and Dan Gunn. The symposium concludes with a lecture by Aaron Wyanski from 4-5 p.m. on the musical settings of Dickinson’s work.

The UMF New Commons Project provides a rich offering of free events including expert talks, discussions, films, workshops and more, many online, for the education and enjoyment of people in Maine and beyond. Nominated by individuals throughout Maine, the selection of New Commons works have the common thread of representing many of the principles and cultural values that inspire and fascinate Maine residents. The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. To learn more about the New Commons Project, and to view many of the events for the first 12 topics, visit the website at: https://newcommonsproject.org/.

UMF provides a challenging yet supportive environment to prepare students for both careers and further study. Located in the heart of Maine’s four-season outdoor recreational region, UMF is a welcoming, close-knit academic community that prepares students for engaged citizenship, enriching professional careers and an enduring love of learning.

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