MANCHESTER -- Local author Lea Newman will be reading from her new, dramatically revealing book, "Emily Dickinson, ‘Virgin Recluse’ and Rebel: 36 Poems, Their Backstories, Her Life" on Sunday, March 23, at 2 p.m. at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester. The book promises to make Dickinson more accessible than ever before as it provides answers to such provocative questions as:

Who was this closeted genius, who dressed in white and lived an outwardly uneventful life while secretly writing heart-stopping poetry that was discovered in a locked box in her room after her death?

How did this recluse come to write sublime erotic poetry while living the circumspect life of a New England spinster?

Growing up as she did in a household that prayed together daily, and in a society where Christianity dominated every aspect of life, how did she come to rebel against God and condemn him as a serial killer?

Newman’s is the first book to pair a selection of Emily Dickinson’s key poems side by side with the stories behind each poem --with the people and life-altering events that shaped her experience and illuminate her poetry. In everyday language and with an easy-to-follow format, it brings the poetry and the intimate details of Emily’s life together on a poem-by-poem basis.

Each chapter reveals the astonishing specific connections between her life and each poem. The book makes Dickinson’s poetry more accessible to newcomers while experienced readers will find new insights into the poems that have long intrigued them.

The selected poems range from the ecstasy of sexual fulfillment to the bittersweet acceptance of renunciation; from the rejection of religious dogma to the celebration of nature’s beauty; from the terror of death, madness and despair to the fun of being "nobody like a frog." Her amazing poems reflect her life even as the life illuminates the poetry.


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Newman earned her Ph. D. in American literature at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and is Professor Emerita at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She has also written books on Hawthorne, Melville, and Robert Frost.