Emily Dickinson’s Lexicon by Katie Lehman


In this debut collection, Katie Lehman pays tribute to Emily Dickinson, with homage to the nineteenth-century American poet’s lexicon of fierce vulnerability. Some poems quote Dickinson verbatim. Others channel Dickinson’s radiant spirit in lyric narratives that reflect Lehman’s own journey through a life lived close to the earth. We learn about Benedictine nuns tending the Victorian walled garden and farm at Kylemore Abbey on the west coast of  Ireland, a newborn calf on a Mennonite dairy farm in Northern Indiana, the poet’s coming-of-age among horses in Ohio, and school picture day during the Covid pandemic with her young son. Like Dickinson’s, Lehman’s poems pose a precise questioning of suffering and death through an inherent lens of light and hope. In the end, Lehman creates an emotional lexicon of her own that urges us not merely to enter but to bask in the sheer exuberance of language and find transport.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 104
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: August 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-953252-88-3


Katie Lehman’s publisher told her he thought her manuscript was “stunningly wonderful” when he accepted it for publication. My view as well. I have known Katie’s work for many years. She has bided her time and produced a formidable book. —John Matthias, author of Thirteen Short Poems and a Draft of XXX Sonnets in Prose, and the 2021 New Yorker memoir Living with a Visionary

A keen and informed naturalist whose lushly descriptive and lyric meditations reveal “the measures that defy time,” Katie Lehman ranges among herbariums, gardens, and farmscapes home and away, building a potent kinship with the larger-than-human world. Lexicon is a dazzling read—a haunted and haunting debut. —Jane Satterfield, author of The Badass Brontës and Apocalypse Mix

While the spirit of Emily Dickinson resides throughout this brilliant, richly observed debut, Katie Lehman’s own lexicon—vibrant, immersed in history, yet strikingly contemporary—is a force truly to be reckoned with. These are poems of deep feeling and even deeper intelligence, ablaze with unforgettable images of rural Irish life, the pendulum swings of time’s long passage, and the memory of loved ones (both human and animal) given lasting form in language of rare delicacy and impact. —Ned Balbo, author of The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots and 3 Nights of the Perseids


Emily in Her Conservatory

I send you inland buttercups as out-door flowers are at sea.
—E.D. to Sarah Tuckerman

Through Oleander and Oxalis, her auburn chestnut hair, dark pink
pinwheels, light pink stars, lavender bells. The “Spice Isles,”
she wrote, just beyond the Homestead’s library. Emily in the
Tropics, a worsted shawl over a fiddle-back chair,
a plat of low-lying Geraniums, purple Heliotropes, her sloping
shoulder by a shelf of soil-dusted bulbs bulging above
their brief expanse of earth like Cypress knees. Fringed Gentians,
the sweet lemon scent of Daphnes, red Camellias; a white
Jasmine from Mr. Bowles. Her hands turning chalky clay-fired pots
under thick waxy leaves. A soft hum in the warm enclosure,
frost on the south-facing pane, wood-smelling ferns in its humid
center. She’ll mail them, her inland emissaries, to meet
every anguish or ordinary hour. Black velvet ribbon around February
bouquets. What summer her winter garden now makes—
until the June Delphinium breaks the horizon like a tall-masted
ship, its bow wake unfurling, triumphant from the sea.


Katie LehmanKatie Lehman received an MFA from the University of Notre Dame in 1999. While at Notre Dame, she was the recipient of the 1998 Billy Maich Academy of American Poets Prize, an award given to a Notre Dame student, graduate or undergraduate, for excellence in poetry. From 2004 to 2010, Lehman was assistant editor at the University of Notre Dame Press and for many years has served as a personal editor for her former teacher, the American poet, translator, and David Jones scholar John Matthias. She is the editor of Matthias’s Regrounding a Pilgrimage, a collaboration with John Peck and Robert Archambeau (Dos Madres, 2018).

Additional information

Weight 7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in