Margo Jefferson has a nice end-piece in today's NY Times Book Review
("I Don't Know How She Does It"
) about Emily Dickinson and the various men who are mostly on display in a recent PBS documentary on the Belle of Amherst. She might as well have named the essay "I Don't Know Why Men Don't Get It." The director/writer Jim Wolpaw takes a couple of direct hits, and Billy Collins gets swiped, too, for his poem, "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes,"
which Ms. Jefferson describes as "smarmy." Maybe I like Billy Collins' stuff too much, or perhaps Margo Jefferson likes it too little, but I think his agenda is actually the same as hers: Get past the "blessed virgin" image of the Belle and try to understand that she was a flesh-and-blood creature who did not shrink from the world in all its power and fury and unknowable bleakness and stark beauty. Or something like that.