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“Wild” Woman

April 12, 2019 English

Wild Nights

New film based on professor’s work re-envisions Emily Dickinson’s life.

By Maryland Today Staff | Maryland Today

Of course, you know Emily Dickinson: She wrote poetry filled with dashes, wore white, lived alone as a recluse, barely published anything during her lifetime and died a sad, sexless spinster.

Except—what if she didn’t?

English Professor Martha Nell Smith’s 1998 book, “Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson,” posited a passionate romantic relationship between the poet and her best-friend-turned-sister-in-law. Now, “Open Me Carefully” has been adapted into a film, “Wild Nights with Emily,” released in theaters today and starring “Saturday Night Live” alum Molly Shannon.

“I never imagined I would discover this homoerotic lesbian relationship, but I did,” Smith said of her work on Dickinson. “I was trained as a scholar that you report what you see, and not what you want to see.”

Read the full story in Maryland Today.

Photo: Molly Shannon plays Emily Dickinson and Susan Ziegler plays her sister-in-law, Susan, in "Wild Nights with Emily," a new film based on Professor Martha Nell Smith's work on the poet. (Image courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment via Maryland Today).