blackbirdonline journalSpring 2022  Vol. 21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts


Emerson’s Study
Photographs by Lauren Miner

Lauren Miner, a former student of Claudia Emerson in Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program, photographed Emerson’s study on April 18, 2016, about sixteen months after the poet’s death.

Of the documentary effort, Lauen Miner writes:

These photographs in Claudia's study were taken early in the morning. When Kent [Ippolito] asked me to come take these photographs, he insisted that I should come early, because of the light, and because Claudia loved to be in that space early in the day, when the light was just so. The photographs don't really do it justice, or capture the full sense of being in that space as the day comes on and brightens, with the birds chirping as the light shifts from pink to orange to white.

The images below were selected by Blackbird from the larger collection of photographs and attempt to give the viewer a sense of the physical space and the room’s contents. The images start on the north side of the room and move generally clockwise around the room.

Click any thumb to open a larger image in the slide show.

Bird statue with spread wings on a shelf. Narrow metal license plate on windows sash reading “69 Pittsylvania Co. 1852.” Three Emily Dickinson books in case; metal statue of a bird.

Medal reading “Literary Award for Poetry / Claudia Emerson / 2013.” Postcard portrait of Emily Dickinson held up by metal bookend with a spread winged bird against a triangle and foward attached tray holding multi-color spring clips. Emerson’s desk angled in a corner by a window; lamp, paperweight, open face-down Dickinson volume among items on desk.

Desk and low chest of drawers covered with books in front of windows. Poetry books and a bible between crow bookends. Small wooden box,  seated gargoyle statue, head in hand, facing Palm Beach Poetry Festival name tag reading “Claudia Emerson / Faculty Poet.”

Audubon print of two owls. Wall hung antique kitchen grater with bird magnets. Wooden “Chatham” sign on windowframe beside a dark ceramic container with multi-color sheen. Shot showing metal bookend with portrait and stacked books Margret Magnus books, God in the Word.

Closeup of the tops of books with bookmarks protruding. Book stack topped with Emily Dickinson Poems.

Overhead wider shot of books stacks on chest. Picture of a bird mug with a bird postcard on window ledge corner. Birds and teacup paperweight on a book stack.

Brass owl bookend in front of stacked books and window. Silhouette of a perched cardinal weathervane in front of window. Brass bird standing on two crossed feathers on a windowsill.

Angled shot across chest toward dictionary stand in front of windows. View toward dictionary stand corner from doorway of adjacent room. Shot showing dictionary stand, high mounted books shelves in front of windows, and rocking chair. Two footstools with papers and manuscripts.

Image of a blackbird on a hand affixed to black folder and inscribed “Claude Before Time and Space.” Doll, books, raven fan, and framed images. Closeup of “church fan” turned sideways in a shelf support; image is the word Nevermore in a stylized font and a head closeup of a tattered raven.

B&W image of a woman surrounded by birds she is feeding. Lili, by Wilhelm von Kaulbach, 1862 Vintage baby doll wearing a “poetry” button. Shelf with baby doll, books, and lamp.

Angled view of stylized bird bookends with bird identification books and glass shaded lamp. Straight on view of stylized bird bookends with bird identification books and glass shaded lamp. Another view of the 1862 Lili print and to its right a vintage bird image; open dictionary below.

Dicionary open to entry on Eider and an illustration of the bird. Close-up of open dictionary with blurred bird print behind. Close-up of poetry books and novels.

Wider shot of book shelf mounted high in front of a window with a bird figurine handing below. Close-up of bird figurine with outstretched wings hanging from a string. Button depicting two birds, turned sideways.

Crow figurine, open beak, facing a glass with an owl emblem. Two framed prints of parrots. Simple mobile suspended from orange yarn to crudely bent wire holding a strand of blue and purple yarn each affixed to fossil or bone fragments.

Yellow wall mounted file organizer stenciled with a rose and affixed with two bird magnets; foot stool underneath covered with disordered papers. Detail of papers on footstool showing a beaded robin in progress on vintage fabric Window sill with card reading “Hope is a thing with feathers”; box or slip case with blue and white image of a barn owl.

Closeup of blue and white barn owl box. Rocking chair Show showing corner with rocking chair and door to adjacent room. Group four images on wall, three framed.

Framed broadside of Ted Kooser’s “July 27.” Detail of Ted Kooser’s “July 27” showing his signature followed by “For Claudia . . .” Three images on the wall under the Kossier broadside. Framed print of a bird on a branch.

Framed pressed dried flower. 3/25/12, Villa Giulia, Palermo, Sicily. B&W unframed image of a man playing guitar in front of a wood-shingled house. Oval mirror topped with a bird, hook at bottom with leather bag hanging. Oval mirror topped with a bird, hook at bottom with leather bag hanging; scarves hanging on door. Close-up of scarf with repeatig blackbird pattern.

White wooden stook with fold out steps; leather case on top. Shot of the study’s back wall and empty large bulletin board shadowed with the pattern from the window panes. Back wall of study showing a framed print of a bird and the shadow of the cardinal weather vane from across the room.

Framed Columbia University certificate acknowledging award of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Late Wife. Bowl of push pins with typewriter key style heads.A bird’s nest.

Lauren Miner is an educator, writer, and visual artist. She holds an MFA in creative writing in poetry and an MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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