How To Get Professionals to Read Your Work- The Emily Dickinson Way

Step One:  Find someone to send your submissions to.

 Emily Dickinson chose to send a few of her poems to social reformer and writer, Mr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Step Two:  Sit down to write query.   When addressing it, be blunt.   Emily simply wrote, “Mr. Higginson,”

Step Three:  Begin query with rhetorical question. 

Emily decided upon, “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?”

Step Four:   Compose letter.   

MR. HIGGINSON,–Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?

The mind is so near itself it cannot see distinctly, and I have none to ask.

Should you think it breathed, and had you the leisure to tell me, I should feel quick gratitude.

If I make the mistake, that you dared to tell me would give me sincerer honor toward you.

I inclose my name, asking you, if you please, sir, to tell me what is true?

That you will not betray me it is needless to ask, since honor is its own pawn.

Step Five:  Compose this letter in a large, looping penmanship that is difficult for anyone to decipher. 

“It was in a handwriting so peculiar that it seemed as if the writer might have taken her first lessons by studying the famous fossil bird-tracks in the museum of that college town.” (Amherst). – Mr. Wentworth Higginson

Step Six:  Decide this difficult to read,  rhetorical-begun query is so brilliant that you don’t even bother signing your name.

Mr. Higginson later said, “The most curious thing about the letter was the total absence of a signature”

Step Seven:   Decide you’d better include your name somewhere.  Just in case.  So scribble it on a card using the the same large, loopy handwriting.

Step Eight:  Stick your work inside the card.  Emily enclosed four poems.  Send whatever you wish.

Step Nine:  Seal envelope.  Address it to person’s home address.  Emily mailed her poems to Mr. Higginson’s house in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Step Ten:   Put on sneakers, prepare to head out to the Post Office, when a creeping thought enters your mind: 

Perhaps times have changed.


Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm  Comments (22)  
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Isadora Duncan: The Free Spirit

“People do not live nowadays. They get about ten percent out of life.”

“You were once wild here.  Don’t let them tame you.”- Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)


Born in San Francisco, the poetic thinker and dancer proclaimed,

“I, Isadora Duncan hereby vow on my twelfth birthday that I will dedicate myself to the pursuit of art and beauty; and to the single life.  I will never marry.  I will never submit myself to any claims other than to truth and beauty.  To seal this vow, I hearby burn my parents’ marriage certificate.  Beauty is truth.  Truth, beauty.  That is all we know on earth, and all we need to know.”

While Isadora did eventually marry the Russian poet, Sergei Yesenin, in 1922, the Mother of Modern Dance kept her vow of dedicating herself to the pursuit of art, beauty, and truth.

From early childhood, Isadora studied the lines of ancient Greek sculpture and the movements of nature; both of which she incorporated into her unique style. Rejecting classical ballet which she deemed, “ugly and against nature”,  she clad herself in Grecian tunics, threw off her shoes, unbound her hair, and danced from her soul.  Stressing improvisation and pure emotion, she strove to rid her movements of all artifice.   The result was a simplicity of grace, which like all masterworks, appeared deceptively easy to achieve.

Isadora considered the solar plexus the “internal motor” and would stand hours in trance.   “I spent long days and nights in the studio, seeking that dance which might be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body’s movement. For hours I would stand quite still, my two hands folded between my breast, covering the solar plexus… I was seeking and finally discovered the central spring of all movement, the crater of motor power, the unity from which all diversions of movement are born, the mirror of vision for the creation of dance.”

   In 1903, she gave a lecture in Berlin where she stated her dance principles. 

“My intention is, in due time, to found a school, to build a theatre where a hundred little girls shall be trained in my art, which they in turn will better. In this school I shall not teach the children to imitate my movements, but to make their own, I shall not force them to study certain movements, I shall help them to develop those movements which are natural to them.”

 She opened her first school in Grunewald, Germany in 1904.  Driven by her belief that, “Every child that is born in civilization has a right to the heritage of beauty”, she  covered the poorer students living expenses.  During class,  she urged her students to listen to the music and wait until it moved them to dance.

Of dance, she said:

“If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.”

“Natural dancing should only mean that the dance does not go against nature, not that anything is left to chance.”

“The true dance is an expression of serenity; it is controlled by the profound rhythm of inner emotion. Emotion does not reach the moment of frenzy out of a spurt of action; it broods first, it sleeps like the life in the seed, and it unfolds with a gentle slowness. The Greeks understood the continuing beauty of a movement that mounted, that spread, that ended with a promise of rebirth.

The Dance – it is the rhythm of all that dies in order to live again; it is the eternal rising of the sun.”

“If we seek the real source of the dance, if we go to nature, we find that the dance of the future is the dance of the past, the dance of eternity, and has been and always will be the same.

The movement of waves, of winds, of the earth is ever the same lasting harmony.”

“It has taken me years of struggle, hard work and research to learn to make one simple gesture, and I know enough about the art of writing to realize that it would take as many years of concentrated effort to write one simple, beautiful sentence.”

Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm  Comments (18)  
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Ada Lovelace: The Enchantress of Numbers



Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron and Annabella Millbanke, was born on December 10, 1815.  After her parents separation,  she was raised alone by her mother.  Annabella was determined that her daughter would not fall victim to the ways of her, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”- father.   Annabella further believed that the way to avoid such madness was to strengthen one’s mind.  Therefore, despite a very sickly childhood which often kept her bedridden, Ada was given an intense education focusing on science and math.

During this time, Ada was tutored by such notables as  the social reformer, William Frend;  the polymath, Mary Somerville; and the British mathmatician, Augustus De Morgan.

On June 5, 1833, Mary Somerville introduced Ada to Charles Babbage, the English mechanical engineer and inventor.  They corresponded often regarding Babbage’s plans for building a Difference Engine, and later, an Analytical Engine.   Impressed by Ada’s scientific mind and passion for mathematics, Babbage nicknamed her, “The Enchantress of Numbers”.

In 1843, Ada translated an Italian article on Babbage’s plans for his Analytical Engine.  In her notes,  she advanced a process for calculating an order of Bernoulli numbers.  Unfortunately, the Analytical Engine was never built in their lifetime due to lack of funds.  However, it has been discovered that her sequence of numbers would have run perfectly.  Thus, Ada is considered to be the very first computer progammer in the world.

Ada Lovelace died of uterine cancer on November 27, 1852.  She was thirty-seven.

The United States Department of Defense named the computer language, Ada, in her honor.