Emily Dickinson is all over Tucson, Ariz. Reading, lectures, classroom lessons ”” it’s all part of the Big Read Project, a National Endowment for the Arts project devoted to “inspiring people across the country to pick up a good book.” In Tucson, people aren’t just picking up Dickinson’s poetry books ”” they’re celebrating her in reading, dance and even desserts.
“You don’t want to put somebody up on a pedestal and pay homage … that’s not very interesting,” says Lisa Bowden with a laugh. Bowden is a publisher and poet, and the organizer of Big Read Tucson.
One of her ideas was to hold open recording sessions for anyone to read Dickinson’s poetry and letters. Restaurants and coffee houses then play those recordings to stimulate conversation and creativity.