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You’ve heard of Emily Dickinson, but what do you really know?

Perhaps the American Civil War (Apr 12, 1861 – May 9, 1865) defined our country as no other event has, and the issues then are still with us today. Of course, the “great Civil War poet” was Walt Whitman. But there was another poet at the time, living up in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson. She was most serious and unsentimental in her poetry, and most prolific, from 1861 to 1865. While she did not write about war directly, the war affected her and it comes through in many of her 1,789 poems. But, a bit of a recluse, she only published ten poems in her lifetime. While her poetry is taught in high schools and colleges, for most of us, she remains an enigmatic figure.

There is an EMILY DICKINSON COMMUNITY MARATHON READING scheduled for this SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. to an estimated 9:30 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Avenue (near Summer Street) in Buffalo. Co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo English Department, Just Buffalo Literary Center, Security Credit Systems, and Talking Leaves Books everyone is invited to join in reading all 1,789 of Dickinson’s poems. You do not need to register or sign up in advance. Just show up. The event is free. Copies of the poems will be provided. You can come to read or just to listen for some or all of the 13-1/2-hour long event. Sitting in a circle, everyone participating will take turns reading consecutive poems as published in Cristanne Miller’s Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them (2016 edition). When it is your turn, you will read the next poem in the edition. There will be between 15 and 20 copies of Miller’s book available to readers. Talking Leaves Books will also offer copies of this edition for sale throughout the marathon.

Free coffee, tea, and water will be available throughout the day, but if you plan to stay for several hours, it is recommended that you bring your own bottle of water. Parking for the Community Marathon Reading will be available in the Westminster Presbyterian church parking lot behind the church (off Delaware), in the United Way parking lot (off Summer Street, across the street from the church), and in the Red Cross parking lot (off Delaware, across the street from the church).

For more information visit

For a little background you might want to listen to an episode of Fresh Air, as host Terry Gross spoke with former American Poet Laureate Billy Collins about Emily Dickinson.

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

If you enjoy public radio and television in Buffalo, you’ve probably heard or seen Peter Hall asking you for money. He’s the co-host of “Theater Talk” with Anthony Chase (Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO, 88.7 FM) and is the afternoon drive host on Classical 94.5 / WNED where he also produces and hosts “Buffalo Philharmonic Live” (Sundays at 5 p.m. repeating Tuesdays at 11 p.m.) broadcasting BPO performances conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Around town he’s the emcee for Buffalo Chamber Music Society concerts, the Falletta competition, and the Camerata di Sant’Antonio concerts. If you see him at a play or musical with a pen in his hand, he’s probably writing a review for

In past lives he has been a Director of Membership for Western New York Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR), a Director of Marketing for Canisius College, and before that was a Director of Marketing for Fisher-Price. He feels fortunate to have worked for some of the most trusted brands in Western New York.

Growing up in the Amherst school system, music, the arts, literature, outdoor activities, and teaching were important in his family. His grandfather, the painter W.J. Schwanekamp, has works on display at the Burchfield-Penney. His father was a high school English teacher and his mother was a public librarian. In high school, in addition to running track and cross country and being in the ski club, Peter played various instruments in the orchestra, had leading roles in the plays, and was an editor of the high school newspaper. Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty years he has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

Depending on the season, on weekends he can be seen riding with the Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club or teaching downhill skiing at Kissing Bridge.

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