The Aesthetics of Collective Uncertainty

Dickinson Review

Dickinson Review

Students make an artistic statement and express themselves through literature

Dickinson Review

by Alexander Bossakov ’20

“I hold the country I call home in my hands.
rock it back and forth, gently
gently, I hold it still as it weeps and I with it.
I lay my country down, stretch it across my lap.”

In 1785, Dickinson's founder, Benjamin Rush, said, “I consider literature as absolutely necessary to preserve liberty in the state, and I thought a college near the centre of the state would be the best bulwark of the blessing obtained by the revolution.”

A year later, the Belles Lettres Society was founded at Dickinson, and today it's one of the oldest literary societies in the nation. Every year since its founding, the society publishes The Dickinson Review, a select sampling of poetry, prose and art. Today, the review continues to embody the mission set forth by Rush, as an editorial board of students compiles work that provokes aesthetic, social and political discourse.   

“(…) I’m afraid ’cause I bet
English is sitting somewhere in this room
as I write
clutching its stomach
rolling over in laughter
at how I type these words
sometimes first in spanish
and then backspace my return to English”

The 2017 issue of The Dickinson Review recently launched in the Stern Center Great Room, where current editors of the publication shared their shock “to find so many pieces questioning and reflecting on the same topics” and discover a distinct collective consciousness that characterized so much of the work submitted during the year. Diving into the work of the Dickinson community, current editors Isabel Figueroa ’19 (art & art history, archaeology) and Emily Bartholet ’19 (English) explain in the preface to the issue that you can recognize and examine a “collective uncertainty about ourselves as individuals, the world we live in, and our future. The pieces in this review wrestle and reckon with the discomfort, misunderstanding and confusion we all experience.”

“Brick by brick by brick
upwards reach the snuffed out voices
of a million tired stories.”

The Dickinson Review has been—for more than two centuries—an outlet for students to express themselves artistically, etching their voices in Dickinson’s history and building, word by word, a lasting chronicle of our community’s collective consciousness.

The excerpts above are from poetry published in the 2017 issue of The Dickinson Review. In order: “Election Poem from a Sunless Place” and “English” by Janel Pineda '18 (English); “Tuesday Morning 5:00 A.M.” by Ellis Tucci '20 (economics). Order your issue of The Dickinson Review through the bookstore's website. The Dickinson Review is seeking submissions for next year’s issue at


Published October 17, 2017