What if Emily Dickinson were sheltering in place in the Bay Area?



It might look a little something like this:

Lockdown Nights—Lockdown Nights!

Lockdown Nights – Lockdown Nights!
We can’t go to – the French Laundry
(no prix-fixe joy for me and thee).*
Lockdown Nights allow
No luxury!

Futile – the pants –
To a body on Zoom –
Done with the makeup –
Done with the brush!

The smoke finally cleared –
Ah, the Bay!
Might I mask – Tonight –
Six feet from thee!

*unless we’re elected to higher office

Welcome to a recurring feature of our festival’s end-of-year campaign: Shelter-in-Place Poems. For the month of December, we’re sharing four literary-pastiche homages that answer the question: “What if [insert iconic poem] was written during these times of Zoom mishaps, isolation, and virtual everything?”

We started with Emily because December 10 is her birthday. Also, she’s kind of the original shelterer-in-place. She may have lived much of her life in one room, but her words and ideas impacted millions beyond her scope or her time. That’s what great literature can do.



For reference, the original masterpiece: 

Wild nights – Wild nights!

Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –
In thee!



This season, we hope you enjoy these fun spoofs…there’s more where this came from!

We also hope you’ll help feed our little bird of hope (“thing with feathers that perches on the soul,” to quote Emily) that sings no matter what, but could use a more secure perch right about now. Can you extend a branch to the Festival?

Here’s some incentive: a generous anonymous donor is matching every gift made before 12/31! Your generosity will be doubled.

Also, gifts at certain levels come with great benefits, including free tickets to our hottest 2021 events with George Saunders, Julia Cameron, Dan Rather, and more.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.