Trying to recollect Emily Dickenson’s name, I googled ‘amherst poet’ and stumbled upon an article entitled Poet from Amherst commits suicide. I clicked over, curious, and read the sad account of Deborah Digges apparent suicide in 2009. She seems to have been a singularly talented woman, being ‘the recipient of the $50,000 Kingsley Tufts Award, the largest prize given nationally for a single piece of work, for her collection “Rough Music.”‘
She’s quoted for having said about painting, a medium she was passionate about until she discovered poetry, “you have to learn how to see. There has to be a cold eye as a painter. And you have to have a cold eye to write. Some part of you has to stand away . . . what you see is not always beautiful.”
Chilling and thought provoking when taken in this current context. I found myself searching for a photograph of her, scanning the article for some image of her face, and when I didn’t find one I realized that I was dissatisfied. Some part of me wanted an image to go with this thin outline of her life, to see some photograph in which I could read that nascent urge for suicide that was to bloom years after the photograph was taken. To bring her to life even as I then understand her more deeply to be dead.
Deborah Digges. A wealth of passion, desires, imagery and thoughts, a love for language and need for expression all implicit in that name. But nothing to me. No face, no story beyond that reported in the paper.
I’m going to purchase Rough Music on Amazon, and refrain from searching for a picture of her on Google. Allow her words and voice to deepen my sense of her, and not seek some vicarious thrill in gazing upon the face of one who ended her life so suddenly.