Emily Dickinson, manuscript                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Dare you see a soul at the White Heat?                                                                                                                                                                                            
Amherst College, Amherst MA

Choosing the Color

connecting to the subconscious:
where do we end and where does the collective begin? 

There is a correlation between poetry and knitting that I discovered accidentally. Due to the meditative quailties of knitting, my thoughts would be flowing freely and easily while I worked through the pattern. At the end of each row, the natural endline, I would drop my needles and write down a thought or two. It was not a process I thought much about. The writing, for me, was simply a way to move through thoughts in order to allow space for more. It was only later when I looked back at the writing that I discovered the poetry, quite literally, of what I had done. Scrawled up and down page after page of my book were lines of text in various sizes and fragmentation.  My blanket was speaking to me.

I was overwhelmed with what felt like a conversation between myself and my blanket. It was as if with some sort of magic my pen had pulled the unspoken dialogue out of thin air and documented it on the page. The pages are invaluable to me now. Without speaking to the blanket, I wouldn’t have been able to bring those thoughts into consciousness. The blanket had so much to say to me and it is my hope to experience a subconscious dialogue like this again. If it is to be with knitting, I wonder if different knitted objects have different things to say- do scarves write different forms of poetry than potholders? If I gave way for a hat to have a pen, what would I read afterwards?  

Beyond writing my own texts, I was reading poets as well. The poetics of “voice” has been a research theme of mine for some time and for me, poetry is a concise and direct translation of the transpersonal space into the conscious space. To be reading poetry at a time when I was experiencing the form so intimately  allowed me to feel a closeness to the poets in a way that was often times more intimate than the connection I was experiencing with people in my physical space.

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat? 
by Emily Dickinson

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat? —
Then crouch within the door —
Red — is the Fire's common tint —
But when the vivid Ore

Has vanquished Flame's conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.

Least Village has its Blacksmith
Whose Anvil's even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs — within —

Refining these impatient Ores
With Hammer, and with Blaze
Until the Designated Light
Repudiate the Forge —

It was after about forty hours of working on the blanket that I stumbled across Emily Dickinson’s poem “The White Heat”. I happened to read it while holding the white wool in my lap, spread out over my body in stitches, and could hardly believe what I was reading. The text was glowing as I read and reread it. Emily Dickinson’s ghost could have been in my room, speaking the words for me to hear. I wept. This woman had written a text that vibrated me to my center. I studied classical theater for three years, working to bring Shakespeare’s or Moliere’s or Aeschylus’s characters to an embodied state and had never once felt a connection like this to a written text. It was astounding to me that after working with this undyed pure sheep’s wool for quite some time, I had accidentally found an answer to a question I wasn’t even consciously asking: why the color white? My blanket, an “unanointed Blaze”, the yarn, a “White Heat” of its own, was on fire beside me just as it was sparking a fire within me. Or perhaps it was me. Or perhaps it was just the blanket. In these moments, as it was with the blanket-inspired poetry, it became increasingly difficult to fully understand where I was ending and where the blanket was beginning. To have met Emily Dickinson that night and in that way was a gift. As I continue my research into vibration, the feminine principle and our understanding of “voice”, this experience will be close to me. And hopefully so will be The White Heat.