Instructor: Ilham Shayegh
Your “soulmate” is a person who is very close to you, who shares your values and thoughts; one that understands you. But, who says that a soulmate should be a human being? It can be everything we enjoy: a place, rain, a book, an animal, a picture and so on. Well, I found my soulmate in a poem, a poem by Emily Dickinson. When I read her poems I feel her passion all along my body, in its every cell. It is like breathing fresh air. She had Bipolar disorder, and her extreme feelings come through her poems. In their madness, her poems show me the sadness, happiness, and uncertainties of life. I want to tell you about how I discovered my passion for writing, and how Dickinson’s “I dwell in Possibility,” describes my connection to writing.
In my life, writing has always helped me to conquer hard times. Two years ago, when I was rejected in the university’s exam, I pretended that I was okay but I wasn’t. I started a full-time job at the airport working night shifts. Every time I heard my friends were going to university it hurt me. That was when I found out that a notebook and a pen were my real friends; I started to create, to write journals, and to make them something more than just sentences, something that will help others, and will make a change, a book. Telling that it was easy would be a lie, because like life, writing has sad and happy moments. Buy no matter, whether I was smiling or crying, in writing I found the limitless possibility of being who I was and becoming who I would. A life without limits, where your imagination could take over the universe, and when a little butterfly can make you write a whole story, a book. In “I dwell in Possibility”, Dickinson compares poetry to a house with numerous doors, windows, and walls. The doors that lead to new opportunities, new places that we have never been before, the windows that reflect everything around us, and the walls that exclude us and let us be who we are while connecting to the world via our imagination. Moreover, they can make our world look different. When my windows are small and narrow, they make me feel like a prisoner. When they are large, I feel like flying.
The walls of the Dickinson’s house are trees with no roofs, as there is no limit to her imagination. Her room, her poetry is like a forest, where words and ideas grow and grow, there is no end. Also, her poems are exclusive, internal, and sometimes misunderstood by her readers. Poetry and fiction writing is extremely personal, as the characters are mainly real, especially if the writer is an introvert. After exploring and analyzing the poetry of many diseased writers, I now realize that the readers read the poems the way they want to, and not necessarily through the eyes of the writers. Once I wrote a story where I was trying to reflect on a sad memory, but my reader told me that they felt the tone was happy and hopeful. No one has true access to the feelings of the authors and that is not for us to realize. What stays with us is their poetry which talks to everyone in a different way and might not necessarily mean what the author felt or thought. That is why literature surpasses time and place and talks to everyone regardless of the circumstances.
In “I dwell in Possibility,” Dickinson let her imagination fly beyond the known world to reach an immortal state in her poetry. Everyone in life consciously or unconsciously tries to leave something behind, and I think like Dickinson I will leave behind books. Last year, I went to a trip by bus. It was night and very dark and the road had many turns. The driver was driving extremely fast. In those scary moments I knew I wanted to leave something behind and I knew it was my writing. In Dickinson, I see my fears, my feelings, and my wishes. In her poetry, I meet a force which reminds me of my lifetime goals, a soulmate that thinks the way I do.
Dickinson, Emily. “I Dwell in Possibility.” Oxford Book of American Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: an Introduction to Theory and Practice. Boston: Longman, 2011.