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From the PublisherKristin 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