Michael Magee on the methodology of "My Angie Dickinson"

The poems in this book were written during an intensive period of reading and writing in 2003 and 2004. I was curious as to whether I could, using some of Emily Dickinson’s forms, evoke in my own readership that combination of shock, bewilderment, excitement, pleasure (a process of dis-orientation and re-orientation) that I imagined Dickinson’s earliest readers must have felt when reading her work. I was cognizant of the fact that Dickinson’s poems, in both form and content, remain surprisingly volatile despite the various historical attempts to render them more placid. This is especially true of those invisible poems that continually escape anthologization and discussion, many of which stray far from English hymnology. So, I reread Emily Dickinson’s Collected Poems and, as I did, performed Google searches using the phrase “Angie Dickinson” combined with bits of syntax from Emily Dickinson’s poems: “Angie Dickinson” + “Hope is”. Likewise I would sometimes integrate rhyming words into the search: “Angie Dickinson” + “with a” + “chimp” + “limp”. Each poem involved a series of such intuitive searches followed by fine stitching together, the mouse replacing the needlepoint.