Emily Dickinson Museum Hosts Summer Poetry Readings in the Garden

June 21, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- The Emily Dickinson Museum will host "To see the Summer Sky is Poetry," a series of Sunday afternoon readings of Dickinson's poems in the Museum garden at 280 Main St. in Amherst, Mass. On Sunday, July 11, Wally Swist, poet-in-residence at Fort Juniper, the Robert Francis House, will explore Dickinson's poems that relate to the nature of love, and present some of his own work. On Sunday, July 18, Lynn Margulis, a distinguished scientist and next-door neighbor to the Emily Dickinson Museum, will share her favorite Dickinson nature poems on a walk around the family property. On Sunday, July 25, Jay Ladin, professor of English at Yeshiva University and a resident of Amherst, will focus on Emily Dickinson's poems about God. He will also read some of his own poems.

All programs begin at 3 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Parking is available on Main Street and side streets throughout downtown Amherst. Some seating will be provided, but audience members are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs. For more information, contact the Museum at 413/542-8161 or visit the Museum's Website at www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

Wally Swist's poems have appeared in various anthologies and periodicals. His books include The New Life (1998), Veils of the Divine (2003), and The Silence Between Us (forthcoming). In the summer of 2003, he gave the final reading in the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at the Hillstead Museum in Farmington, Conn.,, and was accompanied by jazz cellist Eugene Friesen, a member of Paul Winter Consort. In residence at the Robert Francis House in Amherst, Swist is also the general book manager of the University Store at the University of Massachusetts.

Lynn Margulis, distinguished professor of geosciences, has taught at the University of Massachusetts since 1988. She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and her papers will be archived at the Library of Congress. Her publications span topics that include original contributions to cell biology and microbial ecology. She helps develop hands-on science teaching materials: videos of swimming protists, posters and field guides. As a neighbor of the Emily Dickinson Museum, Margulis has developed a special affinity for the poet and has used Dickinson's quotations extensively in her own writings.

Jay Ladin is Ruth and David Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. A long-time Dickinson scholar, he is currently working on a book that deals in part with Dickinson's place in American literary history. His first book of poetry, Alternatives to History, appeared last year, and his poems have been published in many magazines. In 2002, he taught Dickinson and other American poets at Tel Aviv University as a Fulbright Scholar. For several years he also taught a course about Dickinson's poetry at the Dickinson Homestead.

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"You're Painting the Homestead?!? Why?!" at Emily Dickinson Museum July 22

June 21, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- This summer the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., will paint the poet's Homestead. The masonry structure, painted throughout Dickinson's lifetime, will once again look as it did when she wrote here. On Thursday, July 22 at 10 a.m., Myron Stachiw, the lead consultant for the investigation of the Homestead's architectural and paint history will present "You're Painting the Homestead?!? Why?! Preservation in Action" at the Homestead.

Stachiw will give an insider's view of the detective work involved in revealing the secrets of historic houses, their construction, decoration and alteration. In an illustrated slide lecture and walking tour of the Homestead exterior to observe the project work in progress, he will focus on the project to paint the exterior of the poet's home in the colors it sported in the second half of the 19th century, when the poet was engaged most deeply in her work. Space for the program is limited to 15 people, and pre-registration is required. The program fee is $10. To register, please contact Cindy Dickinson at 413/542-8429 or csdickinson@emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

In 1870, a visitor calling on poet Emily Dickinson at her Amherst home described "a large county lawyer's house, brown brick, with great trees & a garden." Recent paint analysis has shown that the brick was actually a light ochre (or mustard) color popular in the 19th century. Architectural trim was painted off-white with dark green shutters and charcoal window sash.

This was the house Emily Dickinson knew in her adult years-and the historic color scheme to which it is being restored. The Homestead has stood in bare brick only since 1916, when new owners removed the color and painted the woodwork white in accord with colonial revival tastes. Over the years, wear and tear on the unprotected masonry has led to deterioration of the mortar; repair of the wood architectural elements also has become an urgent matter.

Samuel Fowler Dickinson, Emily Dickinson's grandfather and a founder of Amherst College, built the Homestead in 1813 in the fashionable Federal style. Reputed to be one of the first brick structures in the modest agricultural community, the Homestead was painted red. Subsequent changes to the house converted its Federal appearance to a Greek revival one, in keeping with contemporary tastes of the 1830s. At that time, the house was painted white except for the fa├žade facing away from the pubic street, which remained red.

Emily Dickinson's father, Edward, made extensive alterations to interior and exterior in 1855, including the addition of an Italianate cupola, veranda and other architectural detailing. He finished the house in an ochre and off-white paint scheme. At the same time as these renovations were underway, Edward Dickinson also built The Evergreens next door as a full-fledged Italianate villa for his son Austin and future daughter-in-law Susan according to their specifications. Once completed, the two Dickinson houses on Amherst's Main Street made an impressive presentation to the town at large.

The Homestead is part of The Emily Dickinson Museum, created last year when the poet's house and The Evergreens merged into one institution under the ownership of Amherst College. The exterior of The Evergreens has already been returned to its historic color scheme of 1856. Paint analysis completed for the Homestead in 2001 provided the detail needed to cover the house in the authentic color scheme in use at the time of poet Emily Dickinson's residence. With masonry and carpentry repair already underway, it is expected that the Homestead will be wearing its new robe by the end of the summer. The Homestead and The Evergreens will once more offer a unified appearance to the town so closely identified with the Dickinson family.

From June through August the Emily Dickinson Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is located at 280 Main Street in Amherst. For more information about visiting, please see the Museum's Website at www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org or call 413/542-8161. The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens is owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. This project is made possible in part by a federal grant from Save America's Treasures, a federal grant program administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

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