Wild Nights with Emily (2018)
May 12, 2019 10:25 AM - Subscribe

Dramatisation of the little known side of the writer Emily Dickinson's life, in particular her relationship with another woman.

The poet Emily Dickinson's persona, popularized since her death, has been that of a reclusive spinster - a delicate wallflower, too sensitive for this world. In this humorous drama, Molly Shannon captures the vivacious, irreverent side of Emily Dickinson that was covered up for years - most notably Emily's lifelong romantic relationship with another woman (Susan Ziegler). After Emily's death, a rivalry emerges when her brother's mistress (Amy Seimetz) along with editor T.W. Higginson (Brett Gelman) published a book of Emily's poems. Unique and surreal, Wild Nights With Emily sheds new light on the life one of our most celebrated poets.
posted by sockermom (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The New York Times published a bit on the mass spectrometry research that uncovered the dedications to Susan in Dickinson's poems in 1998.

Open Me Carefully collects all of her letters to Susan in one volume. Many are also in the text Selected Letters of Emily Dickinson.
posted by sockermom at 10:42 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this yet, but I'm glad it exists. I've been pissed off for YEARS about the censorship and bowdlerization of Emily Dickinson (see also Every Lesbian Writer Ever Until Maybe The Mid-1960's).
posted by kyrademon at 11:39 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Queer erasure is portrayed quite literally in this movie in a way that keeps replaying in my head.

I was a poetry minor in college, and we discussed this a bit in one class, which was focused on a few women poets, their poems, and their correspondence. When I brought up Dickinson's queerness in another poetry class, I was summarily shut down. Most people that I've mentioned this to scoff and get fairly bristly; they really want to cling to the notion that she was a recluse and interacted with no one. Apparently it's vastly preferable to the story that she was joyful and lived a full, rich life. If anyone has ever read any of her poetry or her letters, her full, rich life is on clear display! It is so frustrating to see women get stifled and crushed this way, and exponentially frustrating when their queerness is quite literally erased.

The Because I could not stop for death scene was magnificent. One thing about this movie that I was frustrated by as it was playing, and now thinking back I actually appreciate, is that Emily seemed fairly elusive. I couldn't get a good grip on her, even though the movie was about her! Thinking back, I believe this was clearly an intentional choice. I do wish they had focused on the death of her nephew a bit more, which was very large in her life but was not prominent in the movie.

The acting was fabulous; Shannon was perfectly cast, as was Ziegler. Her face is so expressive. I hope anyone who can see this does; it was a wonderful film.
posted by sockermom at 12:19 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


❤ Molly Shannon.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:34 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


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