ST. PAUL, Minn. -- What would it mean to a poet 128 years after her death to know that her words had voices claiming them on a college campus in St. Paul, Minnesota?
On Friday the second Emily Dickinson Marathon took place at the University of St. Thomas.
"This isn't like a marathon where famous people come and declaim her words in very dramatic ways. This is a people's marathon," organizer and Dickinson scholar Erika Scheurer said.
Scheurer tried this out for the first time six years ago and had about 100 people show up over the nine hour period to take turns reading through Dickinson's 1,789 poems.
"There's always something to learn right? There is always something to figure out. You are never done. When it's done it's boring and that is how she felt about her work as well," Scheurer said.
On Friday people came from all over the Twin Cities, some as young as the sixth grade, others well into retirement.
They sat in a circle at the campus library and each person would read a poem. The circle will continue until all the poetry has been read.
Elanor Heginbothan flew in from Washington D.C. just to be a part of the marathon, writing about Dickinson has been her life's work.
"Emily Dickinson, to read her all in one day, it almost never happens.
Heginbothan said a few of these readings have been done in Dickinson's hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts, but that none of them do it the way it is done in St. Paul.
In the reading room of the marathon there is no discussion of the work, and no talking, it can only be the poetry read aloud for the duration.
Scheurer is teaching a graduate course on Dickinson at UST this Spring, but, she isn't sure the poet herself would be a fan of the marathon reading.
"She'd probably just laugh," Scheurer said.