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25 Essential Poems

From the Illustrated Poets Collection series, volume 1

by Emily Dickinson ; edited by Ryan G. Van Cleave

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-63819-107-0
Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

This title in the Illustrated Poets Collection presents 25 notable selections from Dickinson, with questions to enhance critical thinking.

The poems fall into three sections: “The Natural World,” “Ideas & Imagination,” and “Heart & Spirit.” Each poem garners a double-page spread and a sidebar with three components. “Engage” poses questions designed to help students grapple with Dickinson’s imagery and emphatic yet delicate use of metaphor. “Imagine” suggests activities for playfully approaching the poems, like drawing a map or making a portrait of a poem. “Define” assists with the poems’ less familiar words. The sidebars and appended thumbnail commentary provide clues to interpreting Dickinson’s linguistic elision, but editorial missteps occur. “She sweeps with many-colored Brooms”—a gorgeous poem that metaphorically casts the setting sun as a housewife at her work—is described thus: “This poem shares how a beautiful sunset is created by a housewife sweeping….The poem sheds some glorious light on the impressive work that homemakers do every single day.” (It’s all the odder considering Dickinson’s own quest to advantage her writing over household drudgery.) Digital collages, created from public domain and stock images, pair cutouts of flora and fauna with landscapes and interiors in haphazard combos. For “These are the days when Birds come back”—a subtle poem limning late summer’s cusp—the book depicts a landscape plastered with geese, ignoring the theme. The people depicted are mostly light-skinned.

Visually and editorially unworthy of Dickinson’s incandescence.

(biographical facts, bibliography) (Poetry. 8-11)