Thursday, July 21, 2005

Emily Dickinson, Self-Published Poet

Many authors and poets struggling to get their works in print shy away from the concept of self-publishing because of its stigma; it’s perceived as the final resort of amateurs whose output isn’t good enough to sell. However, they might want to consider the legacy of one 19th-Century poet who pursued self-publishing: Emily Dickinson. Her method was tedious and not at all lucrative, but it endeared her to a wide circle of friends.

Dickinson (1830-86) wrote almost 2,000 poems, many of them four-line commentaries on topics ranging from romance to religion to death. Only 10 were published while she lived, but she distributed hundreds of them -- sometimes self-bound -- in letters to friends.

Four years after her death, the first anthology of her poetry appeared. Her verse became immediately and immensely popular, and the rest is literary history.


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