There is no Frigate like a Book


I handed in my Literacy Journal for the semester yesterday: a collection of musings about reading and writing, the theorists and researchers we studied and how they fit into our own lives and experiences, and wonderings about how this new world of technology meshes with it all.

My last entry was about technology and Emily Dickinson (really!). See, I originally joined twitter because of Emily. Here is my very first tweet:

JacquelineM @jackiemania
I finally caved and got a twitter account. It was the pleasure of reading @EmilyEDickinson that did me in!

(Three years ago! Wow!)

I also, through, get an Emily Dickinson poem mailed to me each day. After a little more than a year, I will have read all of her collected poems, and then I will start again. These are examples, imo (SMS language!) of what I think of as Technology For Good. Sure, there are those that pick fights on Facebook and tweet that they have a headache, but we must remember that technology is a tool which is used by humans — for good or ill — just like any tool. There are so many rich, beautiful, enlightening uses.

I also mused a little about how Emily might use technology if she were here today. I’d venture she might sell self-produced chapbooks of her poetry on Etsy. She would instagram her baking creations and what was in bloom in her garden. She would blog (remember: “This is my letter to the world…”). She’d order books online, perhaps through She preferred to stay at home (to put it mildly) and technology would allow this whilst letting her write that letter to the world. I should know 😉

Even with all this technology and the power and delight it can bring, I think she would still take the most pleasure in a book that she could sit in a nook or window seat and hold, and read, and read again. I ended my journal by copying out this poem of Emily’s, and I wanted to share it with you, too. Even with New Literacies, the idea of Post-Literacy, and all these other wild and intriguing ideas converging, I do believe still  —

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –
 (image: Artist: Mare Woodson Date: 1913 Location: Decker Branch Library, in basement room of a Denver Library. Too beautiful to keep in the basement, I do believe!)


  1. Wallace

    How human Dickinson sounds once put into modern terms (Etsy, Instagram). Maybe that just shows how romantic I am about the past and how harsh I am towards those of us living in the present. I really, really enjoyed this post.

  2. Heidi'sbooks

    Dickinson is my favorite poet. She’s comfort-in-grief, she’s joy-in-the-small-things, she’s a poet extraordinaire. You know she’d be instagraming that garden of hers and all of the little creatures that visited.

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