I Told My Soul to Sing: Finding God with Emily Dickinson

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Overview

A surprising patron saint for all who seek or wrestle with God

A journey through faith and doubt with America’s greatest poet

 Many readers think that Emily Dickinson rejected religion and wanted nothing to do with God. And yet her poetry and life tell a deeper story. Looking closely at twenty-five rare and resonant poems, this intimate portrait reveals how Dickinson occasionally believed, thoughtfully doubted, and in her divine wrestling, met God. In chapters on belief, ...

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I told my soul: Finding God with Emily Dickinson

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Overview

A surprising patron saint for all who seek or wrestle with God

A journey through faith and doubt with America’s greatest poet

 Many readers think that Emily Dickinson rejected religion and wanted nothing to do with God. And yet her poetry and life tell a deeper story. Looking closely at twenty-five rare and resonant poems, this intimate portrait reveals how Dickinson occasionally believed, thoughtfully doubted, and in her divine wrestling, met God. In chapters on belief, prayer, mortality, immortality, and beauty, Kristin LeMay uncovers the riches of Dickinson’s spiritual life and tells of her own search for God between the lines of the poems Dickinson called “hymns.”

“Through her deep engagement with Dickinson’s poems—by turn prayers, partners, revelations, songs—LeMay has written a book that is, in Dickinson’s words, ‘the Heart’s portrait – every Page a Pulse,’ every page a kind of faith.”  – Sarah Sentilles, author of Breaking Up with God: A Love Story

“Part spiritual autobiography, part homage to Dickinson’s inexhaustible poetic genius, and part exuberant close readings of the astonishing poems in which she wrestles with questions of faith and belief, I Told My Soul to Sing is a valuable study of the poet’s heterodox imagination. LeMay does not shackle Dickinson to a procrustean bed of doctrine and piety, dilute the poet’s astringent ironies, or flatten the provocative ambiguities. She has a gift for choosing unfamiliar poems from the canon and for judiciously quoting and interpreting them. A smart, seriously playful, winning, and readable commentary on a quintessentially elusive, thorny, and linguistically daring American poet.” – Herbert Leibowitz, editor, Parnassus: Poetry in Review

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kristin LeMay's captivating I Told My Soul to Sing: Finding God with Emily Dickinson is a hybrid of devotional writing, spiritual memoir, and literary analysis—and the kind of book we wish we saw more often. It is a daring endeavor: as Tweetspeak Poetry said, "an interesting combination of genres and approaches that could have easily gone awry." But LeMay deftly combines literary analysis with her faith experiences in a way that enriches the well-loved poems of Emily Dickinson, while simultaneously widening the genre of spiritual autobiography. LeMay enters into Dickinson's poems as if they were spiritual texts, finding signs and symbols for her life, using Dickinson's words as her own liturgy: "I discovered that I could pour my word-poor desire for prayer into Emily's poems, as in a mold, and let it settle there.... One hundred and forty years later, Emily was interceding for me. Her poem was my prayer." LeMay also refers to Dickinson's letters and biographies, which chronicle an often-anguished longing for faith, and a countering inability to fully commit to it—making her a highly suitable patron saint for LeMay, another writer familiar with the teetering scales between faith and doubt. While LeMay delves into her own life, her narrative is always framed by Dickinson's—and organized into topical categories like "Belief," "Silence," and "Beauty" that provide entry for the reader's own reflections. We have to agree withParnassus editor Herbert Leibowitz; this cross-genre gem is "a smart, seriously playful, winning, and readable commentary." Or, if we could borrow the words of Emily Dickinson herself, we might say that LeMay achieves "the Heart's portrait—every Page a Pulse."

Widen your understanding of the highly personal ways in which art and faith intersect.

Image Journal - Feb. 20, 2013

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612611631
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 810,800
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Belief I could not find my "yes" 17

conversion

scripture

doubt

belief

proof

2 Prayer Prayer is the little implement 75

Hymn

prayer

intercession

Jesus

God

3 Mortality The tranquiller to die 127

incarnation

learning to die

mortality

crucifixion

easter

4 Immortality I stand alive - Today 167

life

afterlife

resurrection

silence

immortality

5 Beauty The Bird her punctual music brings 209

ecstasy

portrait

grasped by God

revelation

beauty

Acknowledgments 255

Notes 256

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    This book is a wonder! Author Kristin LeMay serves as guide - a

    This book is a wonder!
    Author Kristin LeMay serves as guide - a Beatrice if you will - in the personal mapping of the peaks and valleys of 
    a rich interiority, her own as mirrored to twenty-five of Dickinson's "hymns", weaving these poems-as-prayers with
    the fine threads of Belief, Prayer, Mortality, Immortality, and Beauty.
    I would highly recommend this book which leaves me impatiently hopeful that LeMay will let her own soul sing
    its  way again soon to another book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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