In 2018, when you book a stay at the Poet’s Retreat, the nightly rental house next to the museum, you can spend the night in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom. Yes, you do not have to go all the way to Amherst, Massachusetts, for the experience. You can do so in rural Locust Grove, Oklahoma.
Spend the Night in Emily’s Room Contest!
The winner of the two-night stay in Emily’s Room at the Poet’s Retreat, is Carol Scott of St. Louis, Missouri.
For the contest, people wrote about a positive experience with poetry. Here is Carol’s entry:
Title of Piece: Recitation and the Beastie
At 13, my “social awkwardness” would have warranted medication, if I’d grown in this era of helicopter parents and pharma-childhood. But I am a product of the reckless 1950s and 60s, when mothers smoked and drank through pregnancy, children sported without safety gear, and we walked a mile to school in all weathers. Unscathed by these potential traumas, I still could not escape my highly-dysfunctional family, or an un-medicated 9th grade Speech class.
A fundamental terror of visibility did not pair well with memorizing and reciting a poem. I saw certain disaster, as I faced the required assignment. A poem….what poem? Even at 13, my sense of personal defeat erupted, “Oh, hell.”
Then Mom offered a solution that turned my dread to, if not confidence, at least a less-acidic horror. She suggested a short and simple poem, written by one of her uncles. Light, frivolous, delightfully rhythmic, it featured a mythical creature, the Gidjeldeewump, which lives in and maintains a feather pillow. Absence of said creature results in morning grumps, whereas a sunny disposition is explained by the presence of a Gidjeldeewump tending my pillow.
I recited flawlessly in front of mint green cinder block and blackboard, feeling…well…loved. Not by my peers, who daily bullied me in the hallways, nor by my mom whose rare moment of positive attention had yielded this success. That warmth of connection was to my little pillow fluffer, a friend I knew would never let me down. Fifty and more years later, I can still recite my great-uncle’s paean to this beastie, and the warmth of love still flows outward from my heart as I chant, “There’s a Gidjeldeewump in my pillow and, each night as I run up to bed, I find that it’s straightened the feathers to make a nice rest for my head….” at any time in your life. You do not have to be a poet to write this! We have all had some experience with poetry: What is a memorable one that you have had?
About Emily’s Room:
My sister Kelly Palmer is performing her decorating magic in the small room that originally was our grandmother’s sewing room when she lived in the house. Over the years it has been a room for mystery books when it was a bookstore, a bedroom for renters, and a museum gift shop.–Shaun Perkins, ROMP director
March 15, 2018: The room is finished and it’s incredible! Don’t you want to spend the night in there?
March 2, 2018: The room only lacks a few finishing touches, such as the fireplace insert.
Jan. 27, 2018: The room is almost done! Kelly is moving in furniture, waiting on the “fireplace” and some other finishing touches!
Jan. 12, 2018: Wallpaper done, along with “windows.” Emily had four windows in her bedroom, so we will have four also, though they might not be the real thing! Also, carpet has been pulled up. Flooring comes next.
Dec. 17, 2017: Wallpaper is going up. This is a Laura Ashley wallpaper called Ella Berry. It is the closest thing Kelly could find to the original wallpaper, a fragment of which was recovered in Emily’s room during some restoration.
Dec. 16, 2017: A window is uncovered!
Dec. 12, 2017: Views of the room from each corner:
The Emily Dickinson Bedroom, photos courtesy of the Emily Dickinson Museum
The Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry director Shaun Perkins at Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst. Emily’s bedroom is at the two windows on the 2nd floor above Shaun’s head.