Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10, 1830. Although one of America's most acclaimed poets, the bulk of her work was not published until well after her death on May 15, 1886. The few poems published in her lifetime were not received with any great fanfare. After her death, Dickinson's sister Lavinia found over 1,700 poems Emily had written and stashed away in a drawer -- the accumulation of a life's obsession with words. Critics have agreed that Dickinson's poetry was well ahead of its time. Today she is considered one of the best poets of the English language. Except for a year spent at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Dickinson spent her entire life in the family home in Amherst, Massachusetts. She never married and began to withdraw from society, eventually becoming a recluse. Dickinson's poetry engages the reader and requires his or her participation. Full of highly charged metaphors, her free verse and choice of words are best understood when read aloud. Dickinson's punctuation and capitalization, not orthodox by Victorian standards and called "spasmodic" by her critics, give greater emphasis to her meanings.
Poet and visual artist Jen Bervin's work brings together text and textile in a practice that encompasses poetry, artist books, large-scale art works, and archival research. Her poetry/artist books include The Dickinson Composites (Granary Books, 2010), The Silver Book (Ugly Duckling Presse chapbook, 2010), The Desert (Granary Books, 2008), A Non- Breaking Space (UDP, 2005, web-only), The Red Box (UDP, 2004), and NETS (Ugly Ducling Presse, 2004). Bervin's work has been shown at The Walker Art Center and The Wright Exhibition Space, and is in many special collections including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Stanford University, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and the British Library. She has received fellowships in art and writing from The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, The New York Foundation for the Arts, Centrum, The MacDowell Colony, Visual Studies Workshop, and The Camargo Foundation and is an editor-at-large for jubilat. Bervin will teach at Vermont College of Fine Arts and Harvard University in 2011. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Acclaimed poet Susan Howe, winner of the last Bollingen Prize, is the author of the seminal work, My Emily Dickinson.