Submitted by Patricia M. Allen
November 21, 2007
Contact: Jane H. Wald
Executive Director

Emily Dickinson Museum
Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations
Amherst College

AMHERST, Mass.—The Emily Dickinson Museum will host its annual open house on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. in honor of the 177th birthday of its namesake, who was born Dec. 10, 1830. The “At Home” celebration, which is free and open to the public, will once again feature self-guided tours of the Homestead (the poet’s birthplace and home), and The Evergreens (the home next door of her brother Austin’s family). Throughout the afternoon, visitors will be able to sample Dickinsonian refreshments, listen to poetry readings and make a bookmark to take home in honor of BookMarks, the Museums10 celebration of the art of the book. The first 177 visitors will receive a rose, courtesy of an anonymous donor.

At the Homestead, a special booksigning for the new publication, “Wider than the Sky”: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson, will begin at 2 p.m. The book, edited by Cynthia MacKenzie and Barbara Dana, was inspired by the editors’ own uses of Dickinson’s poetry to heal after loss and features essays by 17 contributors, including Dickinson scholars Ellen Louise Hart, Polly Longsworth and Martha Nell Smith; poets Cynthia Hogue and Gregory Orr; and therapist Marion Woodman. Both Dana, an actor and an award-winning author of books for children and young adults, and MacKenzie, a professor of English at the University of Regina in Regina, Canada, will be at the museum Dec. 8 to sign books and talk informally about the volume’s essays.

From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Evergreens, Steven Howland and Tim Van Egmond will perform traditional 19th-century folk music on fiddle and hammered dulcimer. Howland has been playing the fiddle since he discovered traditional New England-style music and dance in the early 1980’s. Having expanded his style to include Irish, Cape Breton and Appalachian fiddle music, he is a regular caller at dances throughout the region. Van Egmond is a similarly accomplished hammered dulcimer player; as a member of the contradance band Swallowtail, he has performed nationwide, including appearances on National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion and at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. He is also a member of the folk singing duo Yankee Notions and a solo performer of music and stories.

The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. Owned by the trustees of Amherst College, the museum is overseen by a separate board of governors charged with raising its operating and capital funds.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is located at 280 Main Street in Amherst, Mass. The official museum Web site is Hours through Dec. 5 are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed the Wednesday before Thanksgiving). The museum will have special holiday hours Wednesday, Dec. 26, through Sunday, Dec. 30, from noon to 4 p.m. The museum will otherwise be closed from Dec. 9, 2007 until March 1, 2008.