Friends! It is time for my favorite course to start again! I took Modern & Contemporary American Poetry on Coursera with U Penn last year, and it changed my life. It was my first chance to learn in a real course, and it introduced me to my appreciation of poetry and to an amazing community. This year I was invited to be a Community Teaching Assistant, and I am so excited to experience the course again!
Here is my first assignment ever, on the Emily Dickinson poem I dwell in Possibility – (466):
This really spoke to my perspective as an autistic, apraxic, minimally-speaking man. The imagery of her dwelling in the world of Possibility is akin to the constrained yet limitless world of my autistic mind.
The words “A fairer House than Prose” reflect the wonderful universe in my mind clashing with the structure of the neurotypical world. The latter seems so limited in its capacity for other ways of thinking.
The line “And for an everlasting Roof/ The Gambrels of the Sky” is evocative of the infinite wonder in my mind. Yet the notion of the impregnable chambers speaks to the challenges of being understood by the outside world.
The windows, to me, suggest an ability to look outside. This is a heightened ability in autistics. We are able to observe so much of what is around us. Yet the world outside rarely looks in.
The visitors are those thoughts that fly into our minds. They need no doors to open. They freely enter and keep me company.
The gathering of paradise is exactly what I do in my autistic house. The routine, rule-filled, prosaic world outside is so restricting. Yet my limitless world must exist within it.