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Poet & Emily Dickinson Scholar


Annie Finch is a poet, critic, editor, translator, and librettist, author or editor of numerous volumes of poetry, translation, and criticism. Her books of poetry include Eve, Calendars, Among the Goddesses, and the forthcoming Spells: New and Selected Poems. Her other works include several influential books of poetics, including The Ghost of Meter, a theory of metrical codes that was developed during readings of Emily Dickinson. Her music, art, theater, and opera collaborations have shown at such venues as American Opera Projects, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Art Institute, Poets House, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Finch's book of poetry Calendars was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award and in 2009 she was awarded the Robert Fitzgerald Award. She holds degrees from Yale University and Stanford University and currently directs the Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing at the University of Southern Maine. She has published two essays on Dickinson, the first entitled "My Mother Dickinson" and the second, a decade later, entitled "My Father Dickinson." Poems, essays, and a new downloadable 40-page "Readers Guide" to Calendars may be found at her website, www.anniefinch.com/


“You’ll find--it when you try to die--” --Emily Dickinson

When there are no words left to live,
I have elected hers

to haunt me till my margins give
around me, web and bone.

Her voice has vanished through my own.
She makes me like a stone

the falling leaves will sink and stay
not over, but upon


Chain Of Women

These are the seasons Persephone promised

as she turned on her heel;

the ones that darken, till green no longer

bandages what I feel—

Now touches of gold stipple the branches,

promising weeks of time

to fade through, finding the footprints

she left as she turned to climb.

Letter for Emily Dickinson

When I cut words you never may have said

into fresh patterns, pierced in place with pins,

ready to hold them down with my own thread,

they change and twist sometimes, their color spins

loose, and your spider generosity

lends them from language that will never be

free of you after all. My sampler reads,

"called back." It says, "she scribbled out these screeds."

It calls, "she left this trace, and now we start"—

in stitched directions that follow the leads

I take from you, as you take me apart.

You wrote some of your lines while baking bread,

propping a sheet of paper by the bins

of salt and flour, so if your kneading led

to words, you’d tether them as if in thin

black loops on paper. When they sang to be free,

you captured those quick birds relentlessly

and kept a slow, sure mercy in your deeds,

leaving them room to peck and hunt their seeds

in the white cages your vast iron art

had made by moving books, and lives, and creeds.

I take from you as you take me apart.


Landing Under Water, I See Roots


All the things we hide in water

hoping we won't see them go—

(forests growing under water

press against the ones we know)—


and they might have gone on growing

and they might now breathe above

everything I speak of sowing

(everything I try to love).




On solid hills through liquid dusk,
the city turns to rise

with its purple touch, to enter me.
I touch it with my eyes.

Gray nature, make a dusk of me,
and let me keep my ties.

Though I am solid, even hard,
Touch me back with my eyes



Are we one or are we two,
face in fingers, hand in arm?

Are we one or are we two,
since your harming is my harm?

One came from two when we lay and breathed,
and two came from one when my will came in.

One turned to two when I found you,
two turned to one when we heard a sound.

Hand over head in a peaceful place,
I came from you until we found me.

(Are we two or are we one,
face in fingers, hand in arm?)

Are we one or are we two
(since your harming is my harm?)

Poems: Copyright © 2011 by Annie Finch. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the author.

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