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PoetrySnaps! Steven Nightingale: We Who Would Call Emily Dickinson Back

Courtesy Steven Nightingale

There are two things in particular poet Steven Nightingale loves about his craft: the sonnet, and Emily Dickinson. In this week’s PoetrySnaps! segment, he combines the two in a sonnet he wrote for his favorite American poet. Here is Steven Nightingale with, We Who Would Call Emily Dickinson Back.

Steven Nightingale:

Oh god, Emily! How dear, and extraordinary, and brave, and admirable, and indispensable to life she is.

Emily Dickinson is, of course, an iconic figure in American poetry. She’s so much in my view, head and shoulders above any other American poet, and I think also among the very few poets who can really claim an enduring worldwide reputation.

I have loved her just about as long as I’ve loved the sonnet. So, this is a sonnet about her.

We Who Would Call Emily Dickinson Back

Come home, thunderbolt in a white dress,

You saw hell’s fashion show, the press

Of doctrine, inferno of confusion, failure

To understand the way a woman can make

Both bread and stars, can rise to confer

With angels and history, can be architect

Of clear resurgent daily paradise built

With words and given away. Minds melt

In your hot genius; then healed, protect

Beauty you gave us mercilessly, always,

As all your life, you sang. For the sake

Of all our life, you sang. Now our days

Are iridescence, playfulness. You shone.

Tigress, thunder, ocean: come home.

About the poet:

Steven Nightingale is originally from Reno, Nevada. He now divides his time between the desert Southwest, the San Francisco Bay area and Granada, Spain. Nightingale is the author of two novels and six books of sonnets.

About the host:

Steven Law is a poet, journalist and educator based in Page, Arizona. He is the author of a collection of poems called Polished.

About the music:

Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

Steven Law was the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps!
Gillian Ferris was the News Director and Managing Editor for KNAU.