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Emily Dickinson: The Remix

An ode to the poet, in four takes

What poetry 101 student could forget Emily Dickinson, that prolific and painfully reclusive writer who died in obscurity, yet became one of the most powerful figures in American culture? Her innovative pre-modernist work earned her a spot amongst the 30 greatest Western writers of all time, and she’s a staple of introductory poetry classrooms around the country. Now, her eerie, dash-filled prose are inspiring a new generation of rockers, artists and hipsters.

Brain Picking’s Maria Popova turned up Israeli singer-songwriter and actress Efrat Ben Zur, who puts Dickinson’s characteristically melancholy and longing-filled lines (I’m nobody! Who are you? / Are you nobody, too? / Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell! / They’d banish us, you know) to music:

But there are a slew of other artists who’ve been inspired by the poet. For a more traditional Dickinson musical take, Zoe La Terreur puts an operatic spin on another cheery poem, which begins, “The world feels dusty / when we stop to die…”

And you needn’t be a pro to enjoy Dickinsonian ballads. Here, a bunch of jubilant fans belt out a “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain” sing-a-long in honor of the poet’s birthday.

More from Smithsonian.com:

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