In a Friday Exploration (that included homemade “Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake”), a group of Upper School students, English teacher Mrs. Elizabeth Young, and TGS poet-in-residence Ms. Joni Wallace met with two renowned poets over Zoom to recognize Emily Dickinson’s 191st birthday.
The poets, Mary Jo Bang, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis and author of eight books of poetry, and Octavio Quintanilla, a professor at Our Lady of the Lake University, whose recent poetry addresses border issues and his Mexican heritage, offered insights into Emily Dickinson’s work and her influence on their own work and on the genre of poetry.
“The two guest speakers were fantastically different in how Emily Dickinson influenced their craft,” Mrs. Young said. “We experienced classic explication vs modern adaptation.”
In addition to the guests, Mrs. Young and Ms. Wallace talked with the students about Emily Dickinson’s life and about what makes her poetry extraordinary, and students heard some of her poems read aloud.
“I really walked away with a deeper understanding of Emily Dickinson,” Renz Iurino ‘23 said when the Exploration ended. “The speakers made me think about the things conveyed in the poems at a deeper level. It was great, because I got to think the whole time.”
Happy birthday, Emily Dickinson!
"Teaching at The Gregory School has allowed me to know hundreds and hundreds of interesting students, whose curiosity and skepticism have spurred my own scholarship. Because of them, I get to play the part of student as much as teacher."
Elizabeth Young holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. in English and Art History from Hillsdale College. She was appointed to The Gregory School faculty in 2002.