Emily Dickinson, born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts, is an enigma to many: Her life of isolation, her passionate letters, and her complicated and aesthetically daring poems all add to her allure.

On December 11, following Dickinson’s 185th birthday, former Chancellor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds met with Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Cynthia Nixon to discuss the magnetism and mystery of Dickinson’s poetry and her life. Olds and Nixon also discussed their work as a poet and as an actress, respectively; how they step into the process of creating a poem or breathing life into a character, and how they engage with other art forms as well.

This conversation was the last installment of the Fall Conversation Series, cosponsored by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Public Library. These conversations paired some of today’s most celebrated poets with accomplished artists, dancers, chefs, and actors.

Listen to audio of Olds and Nixon’s conversation, as well as audio from earlier conversations in the series.

listen to Sharon Olds & Cynthia Nixon audio

listen to Kevin Young & Gabrielle Hamilton audio

listen to Mark Doty & Bill T. Jones audio